Scottie Thompson buried the game-winning triple in the dying seconds to lift Barangay Ginebra over Meralco, 83-80, and into the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
Tied at 80 in the final 14 seconds, Thompson salvaged Ginebra's final possession by drilling the dagger from the corner with 0.6 seconds left to send the Gin Kings into the title round after a hard-fought Game 5 semifinals thriller against the Bolts.
Thompson's heroics also capped off a brilliant night that saw him tally 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in 38 minutes of play for Ginebra.
"Wow," head coach Tim Cone remarked after the game. "Scottie deserves that shot. He deserves all the recognition, all the laurels. He deserves it because there's nobody who works harder than him. I'm really happy for Scottie."
The do-it-all guard also scored 10 points in the final frame and was incredibly instrumental in a fourth quarter Ginebra comeback orchestrated by Thompson, LA Tenorio and Stanley Pringle.
After a Tenorio drive to the hoop put the Gin Kings ahead 74-73 with over two minutes remaining, Thompson later scored on a putback and buried a pair of free throws to give Ginebra a 78-75 advantage with 1:09 left.
A tough bucket by Chris Newsome closed the gap to one, but Newsome missed a huge opportunity to put the Bolts ahead by clanking on a triple that later led to a pair of free throws by Tenorio to put Ginebra ahead by three again, 80-77.
Meralco, however, wouldn't be denied and leveled with the Gin Kings after Reynel Hugnatan sank a three-pointer from the top of the key with 14 seconds left.
That set the stage for a final possession for Ginebra, which initially looked to create a bucket through Pringle. When Pringle was denied, he dished it to Prince Caperal, who quickly swung it over to his left to Thompson for the clincher.
Scottie Thompson sinks the game-winner
Scottie Thompson sends Barangay Ginebra into the Philippine Cup finals with a huge corner triple.
"The play was designed for Stanley, and Stanley gave it up to Prince, and Prince gave it up to Scottie, and Scottie hit the shot. I'd like to think that that's what we're all about, that unselfishness," said Cone.
Pringle still led all scorers with 22 points to go with his eight rebounds. Tenorio, meanwhile, finished with 14. The duo, along with Thompson, scored the final 18 points for Ginebra.
This is the fourth time that Ginebra has dispatched Meralco in a playoff series, though Cone said the Gin Kings just got lucky against a Bolts team that was a little hungrier than they are in the do-or-die game.
"From a coaching standpoint, it's better to be lucky than good. And I just feel really lucky tonight. For Meralco, they battled so hard and we just seemed to find a way to make big shots," he said.
Chris Newsome led Meralco with 15, six rebounds and six assists. Cliff Hodge and Bong Quinto added 14 each, while Hugnatan and Allein Maliksi chipped in 12 each.
Ginebra will face the TNT Tropang Giga in Game 1 of the All-Filipino Finals on Sunday, Nov. 29.
"I think we'll go in as slight underdogs, as opposed to this series where we were a little bit favored," said Cone. "Talk 'N Text is going to be really hard. But I think right now, just for a night, we're going to enjoy this one against Meralco and try to put our minds on Talk 'N Text tomorrow."
Barangay Ginebra 83 - Pringle 22, Thompson 20, Tenorio 14, Aguilar 12, Caperal 5, Mariano 5, Devance 2, Dillinger 3, Tolentino 0, Chan 0.
Meralco 80 - Newsome 15, Hodge 14, Quinto 14, Maliksi 12, Hugnatan 12, Jackson 4, Almazan 4, Amer 3, Black 2, Jamito 0, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 17-14; 33-31; 55-59; 83-80.
- Meralco (43.6 percent) shot better from the field against Ginebra (38.6). Ginebra, though, won the battle on the boards, 48-41.
- Both teams had only nine turnovers each.