MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra put the nail in the coffin for NorthPort to advance to the finals of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup with a 120-107 win at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, December 20.
Determined to finish the job, Justin Brownlee put up a near-triple-double of 36 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks as the Gin Kings wrapped up the best-of-five semifinals affair in 4 games.
Brownlee scored 11 points in their masterful second-quarter showing that saw his side enter the halftime break up 56-39 – a lead that stood in the second half despite a valiant stand by the Batang Pier and Paolo Taha.
It was not just Brownlee though who shone in the win with 4 of his teammates breaching double figures led by Japeth Aguilar, who also flirted with a triple-double with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
LA Tenorio had 19 points and 6 assists, while Stanley Pringle finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals as Barangay Ginebra won 3 straight after surprisingly dropping the series-opener.
This is the third time in the last 4 seasons that the Gin Kings will see action in the finals of the season-ending conference, winning the titles in 2016 and 2017.
"It's good to be back in the finals for us," said Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, whose last finals appearance came in the Commissioner's Cup last year.
"We've talked a lot about that this conference, about getting over the hump, and getting to the finals. We didn't want the semis to be the only level we get to."
Their finals entry, however, was close to being stalled when Taha unloaded 21 points in a fiery third-quarter display that saw the Batang Pier trim their deficit to single digits, 58-66, off a pair of his free throws.
But the Gin Kings restored order in the final period behind back-to-back Tenorio three-pointers, 97-83, and they never looked back since.
Scottie Thompson added 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists in the win.
Taha wound up with 29 points, while Christian Standhardinger had 32 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals for the Batang Pier, who badly missed the services of injured players Sol Mercado and Kevin Ferrer.
Import Michael Qualls added 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in the loss.
Despite the exit, it was still an impressive conference for NorthPort, which stunned No. 1 NLEX in the quarterfinals and became only the No. 8 team in PBA history to take down the top-seeded squad.
Barangay Ginebra will face the winner of the other semifinals pairing, which TNT leads against Meralco, 2-1.
Ginebra 120 - Brownlee 36, Aguilar 20, Tenorio 19, Pringle 18, Thompson 14, Slaughter 6, Mariano 4, Chan 3, Dillinger 0.
NorthPort 107 - Standhardinger 32, Taha 29, Qualls 25, Anthony 18, Lanete 2, Elorde 1, Cruz 0, King 0, Escoto 0.
Quarters: 32-21, 56-39, 86-75, 120-107.
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.