MANILA, Philippines – For the nth time, Barangay Ginebra proves it has the upper hand over rival Meralco.
The 5th seed Gin Kings advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup by sweeping the 4th seed Bolts, 104-90, in their best-of-3 quarterfinals duel at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, July 11.
In a rematch of the last two Governors' Cup finals – which Ginebra both won – Justin Brownlee carried the scoring cudgels anew by pouring in a game-high 36 points, including 24 points in the first half that put the Gin Kings up front.
Brownlee, who has time and again delivered for the league's crowd darlings, also tallied 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals as Ginebra stretched its winning streak to 7 games.
The Gin Kings held a 16-point lead with 8 minutes left, 87-71, before the Bolts scored 10 unanswered points – 7 coming from Chris Newsome – to narrow the gap to just 6 points, 81-87.
However, that was the closest Meralco would get as Ginebra unloaded a game-clinching 17-9 spurt, highlighted by a Brownlee fastbreak slam with 4:16 minutes remaining and a Greg Slaughter dunk within the final two minutes.
"They really got a good start. But we took a punch and came back," a relieved Ginebra coach Tim Cone told reporters.
The Bolts led 28-24 after the maiden period before the Gin Kings turned the tables and ended halftime with a 5-point lead, 51-56, thanks to Brownlee's heroics.
Slaughter backstopped Brownlee with 14 points and 10 rebounds while LA Tenorio chipped in 11 points, 5 assists, 3 steals and two rebounds.
Arinze Onuaku paced Meralco with 21 points and 13 rebounds but coughed up 6 turnovers.
Ginebra awaits the winner of the series between the No. 1 Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and No. 8 GlobalPort Batang Pier, who will duke it out in a do-or-die contest on Thursday, July 12, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Barangay Ginebra (104): Brownlee 36, Slaughter 14, Tenorio 11, Aguilar 10, Mercado 9, Chan 8, Devance 8, Thompson 4, Ferrer 2, Caguioa 2, Caperal 0, Mariano 0, Manuel 0
Meralco (90): Onuaku 21, Newsome 17, Amer 11, Hugnatan 10, Caram 6, Dillinger 6, de Ocampo 6, Hodge 6, Lanete 3, Baracael 2, Canaleta 2, Ballesteros 0, Salva 0, Sedurifa 0, Bono 0
Quarter scores: 24-28, 56-51, 79-65, 104-90
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.