LA Tenorio and Stanley Pringle took charge down the stretch for Barangay Ginebra, which withstood a furious Blackwater comeback to roll to a 96-81 win for its first victory in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Pringle scored 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go with six rebounds, six assists and a steal, while Tenorio finished with 17 points and seven dimes for the defending champions, who managed to recover from a 19-point blowout loss in their conference opener against NLEX last Sunday.
The duo combined to score 16 of Ginebra's 27 fourth quarter points and handed out four of the team's five assists in the final 12 minutes.
"It wasn't pretty, that's for sure. We haven't put together any pretty basketball yet. We're still working to be more coherent and more together in our play right now," coach Tim Cone said after the game. "We came out, we weren't ready to play against NLEX. [Tonight] we did a better job of coming in a little bit more focused."
That appeared to be the case early on for the Gin Kings, who led by as many as 17 in the first two quarters, but a strong second half by the Bossing nearly threatened the prospect of a bounce-back win.
Down 65-52, Blackwater outscored Ginebra 15-4 in the last 5:29 of the third quarter to slash a commanding Ginebra lead to just two, 69-67, entering the fourth and final period of play.
Pringle appeared to have steadied the ship by scoring six of Ginebra's first 10 points in the payoff period, but Blackwater continued to hang around and even cut it to two again, 79-77 at the midway mark.
Tenorio took over from that point on, scoring five straight points before feeding Japeth Aguilar for an easy dunk that pushed the lead to nine, 86-77, with 3:48 left.
Kelly Nabong scored four points to keep the Bossing in it, but a Pringle layup and a dime to a Christian Standhardinger three-point play gave Ginebra a sizable 91-81 cushion.
Standhardinger later came up big in the final 1:21, where he finished through contact down low for the basket plus the foul for an insurmountable 13-point lead for the Gin Kings.
The Fil-German big man finished with 11 points on 3-for-9 shooting, a game-high 19 rebounds and four assists in almost 37 minutes of play.
Prince Caperal scored 12 of his 16 points off the bench in the first half, while Aguilar wound up with 14, four boards and two blocks. Scottie Thompson also finished with 11.
"Our offense is still gonna run through LA and Stanley. Christian's addition won't change that," Cone remarked. "We're gonna continue to play through Stanley and LA, and I think Christian will find his spots."
Ginebra shot a scorching 55.9 percent from the field in the first half thanks to an incredible edge inside the paint, where the team collected 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting (84.6 percent).
Overall, the Gin Kings made 47 percent of its field goals. Blackwater, meanwhile, only hit 38 percent.
Cone said Ginebra will round to form as the conference goes on, but the focus is on trying to put together a good game against the Magnolia Hotshots, who hold a share of the lead atop the standings at 2-0.
"We're no stranger to slow starts. We start slow, we don't panic. We know we're gonna pick it up and we feel we'll be there at the end when it counts," said Cone. "We're just the kind of team that just believes we're going to get better as the conference goes along. We don't really have too much panic this early in the conference."
"(But) we know we have a really tough opponent coming in against Magnolia on Sunday. We'll have minimal preparation time for them. They're obviously one of the top teams in the league, especially with [Calvin] Abueva on that team now and Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang and Mark Barroca and that old group," he added.
Blackwater, now 0-3 in the conference, was led by Mike Tolomia's 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Simon Enciso also finished in double-figures with 16, while Nabong added 10 and seven boards.
BARANGAY GINEBRA (96) -- Pringle 19, Tenorio 17, Caperal 16, Aguilar 14, Thompson 11, Standhardinger 11, Chan 5, Dillinger 2, Devance 1, Salado 0, Tolentino 0, Enriquez 0, Aguilar R 0, Holmqvist 0, Ayaay 0.
BLACKWATER (81) --Tolomia 22, Enciso 16, Nabong 10, Magat 6, Daquioag 6, Desiderio 6, Amer 5, Paras 4, Semerad 2, Canaleta 2, Dennison 0, Torralba 0, Acuno 0, Escoto 0, Gabriel 0.
Quarter Scores: 21-13, 45-32, 69-67, 96-81
Aljon Mariano could miss most of Ginebra's Philippine Cup campaign as he continues to recover from a surgery to remove bone spurs on his foot. "That's a guy we really miss, because he lends a lot of toughness to us. He gets to places and balls that nobody else does, normally," Cone said. "He had to go through a second surgery just before the conference started. So that's going to put him out for six to eight, maybe 10 weeks. So that could be the whole conference."
- Aguilar's first basket of the game made him the 89th local and the 93rd member overall of the PBA's 5,000-Point Club, according to league statistician FIdel Mangonon III. He's also the 12th to accomplish it in a Ginebra uniform.
- Ginebra had a massive advantage on the glass (60-34) and in the assists column (25-13) against Blackwater.
- Barangay Ginebra vs. Magnolia on July 25, Sunday, at 4:35 p.m
- Blackwater vs. San Miguel on July 28, Wednesday, at 12:30 p.m