MANILA, Philippines – No one has yet to solve the Barangay Ginebra puzzle, not even Rain or Shine Elasto Painters who entered the playoffs with the No. 1 ranking.
The Gin Kings stretched their winning streak to 8 games by drawing first blood against the Elasto Painters, 102-89, in their best-of-5 semifinals duel of the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, July 15.
Justin Brownlee delivered another masterful performance of 35 points, 14 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 blocks and two steals in a game that saw the Ginebra break the game wide open in the final 8 minutes.
Leading by 8 points early in the 4th quarter, 86-78, the Gin Kings unloaded 16 unanswered points – with 7 coming from Jeff Chan – to completely bury Rain or Shine and move two wins within reaching the finals.
Chan, playing against the team he helped win two PBA titles, submitted his best game in a Ginebra uniform since his trade from the Phoenix Fuel Masters by firing 21 points on a 6-of-10 clip with 4 rebounds and two steals.
"We were able to put the jets on in the end and hit some shots. As you can see, Jeff is a really great weapon when he has great players around him," Ginebra head coach Tim Cone said.
With the Gin Kings missing Japeth Aguilar due to a swelling in his Achilles tendon area, Greg Slaughter anchored the paint for the squad, delivering 20 points and 6 rebounds and holding his own against Rain or Shine import Reggie Johnson.
Johnson carried the Elasto Painters on his back with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists but the squad failed to duplicate its 20-point rout of Ginebra in the elimination round.
James Yap added 15 points and 8 rebounds and Ed Daquioag chipped in 10 points in the loss.
Game 2 is on Tuesday, July 17, at the same venue.
Ginebra (102): Brownlee 35, Chan 21, Slaughter 20, Devance 12, Tenorio 5, Thompson 4, Mercado 3, Aguilar 2, Caperal 0, Manuel 0, Ferrer 0, Mariano 0
Rain or Shine (89): Johnson 30, Yap 15, Daquioag 10, Tiu 7, Washington 6, Ponferada 6, Ahanmisi 6, Belga 4, Nambatac 3, Norwood 2, Almazan 0
Quarter scores: 31-27, 52-45, 76-60, 102-89
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.