Barangay Ginebra capped off a tumultuous PBA season by capturing its first Philippine Cup championship in 13 years with an 82-78 Game 5 win on Wednesday at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
Japeth Aguilar, Stanley Pringle and LA Tenorio carried the load down the stretch for the Gin Kings, who clinched the franchise's first title in the All-Filipino Conference since the 2007-08 season.
Aguilar tallied a career-high 32 points and added eight rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Pringle bucked a rough scoring night and put up 11 of his 13 points in the final period to go with six assists, four rebounds and a steal.
Tenorio, who won his first-ever Philippine Cup title, had 10 and six assists and won his fourth Finals MVP award.
"Kind of a surreal feeling being here. Everything's different -- the celebration is different, the awarding is different," Tim Cone, who won his 23rd PBA title to extend his reign as the league's winningest coach, said after the game. "It's just a very different experience. But our guys really battled for this."
Clinching the title didn't come that easy for Ginebra, which had to fend off a feisty attempt by an undermanned Tropang Giga unit to further stretch the title series.
After TNT took a 73-68 lead in the fourth quarter thanks to back-to-back triples from Simon Enciso, Ginebra uncorked a massive 12-0 run behind Aguilar and Pringle to run away with the lead for good.
Back-to-back threes from Pringle gave the Gin Kings a 76-73 lead, then an emphatic alley-oop finish by Aguilar off a lob from LA Tenorio made it a 78-73 advantage with 1:56 to go.
Tenorio later sealed the deal with a pair of free throws to make it an 82-77 with eight seconds left for Ginebra, who also won a second consecutive after winning the 2019-20 Governors' Cup crown last January.
The feat is extra special for the Ginebra franchise, which tied Crispa for the fourth-most in league history by winning a 13th title inside a unique and taxing bubble setup in Pampanga.
"It's so unique, this championship. There's only been one, it's in the bubble. This is going to be one that's going to be remembered," Cone gushed. "It's just so unique, and I think it's going to be remembered forever. And it's nice to have that legacy. Our players, even our young rookies, they're going to remember this bubble championship."
TNT was led by tremendous efforts from Roger Pogoy and Poy Erram, who fell short of steering the team into extending the series in the absence of stars Jayson Castro and Ray Parks.
Pogoy had 23 points (6-for-21 shooting) and eight rebounds, while Erram put up 18 and 15 rebounds while adding three blocks and two steals.
Enciso finished with 17 and five assists, while Troy Rosario threw up 12 and eight rebounds.
Cone was all praises for the Tropang Giga, whom he thinks will be "the dominant team over the next few years."
"I think everybody's gonna have a rivalry against Talk 'N Text. I mean, they're primed to really step into another level," said Cone. "Jayson I think has a couple of really good years left as long as he can stay healthy. But aside from that, their core is very young with Troy, Pogoy and Enciso and Bobby Ray, who's still a second-year player.
"So they have a really, really young core that they're going to build on, and I think they're just going to get better and better. And I think that if we're all not careful, they will become the dominant team over the next few years."
Barangay Ginebra 82 -- Aguilar 32, Pringle 13, Tenorio 10, Dillinger 8, Thompson 6, Mariano 5, Chan 3, Caperal 3, Devance 2, Tolentino 0.
TNT 78 -- Pogoy 23, Erram 18, Enciso 17, Rosario 12, De Leon 6, Vosotros 2, Carey 0, Reyes 0, Montalbo 0, Washington 0.
Quarters: 19-19, 38-36, 55-56, 82-78.
Barangay Ginebra won the title 277 days after the PBA opened the season last March 8.
This is a second consecutive title for a Gin Kings squad that also won the 2019-20 Governors' Cup crown last January.