MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia pulled off an escape act against Barangay Ginebra, 101-97, to gain a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-5 semis of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday, November 12.
The Hotshots saw their double-digit lead vanish late but proved the better team in the endgame to move one win from securing a finals berth and denying the Gin Kings a third straight title in the season-ending conference.
Import Romeo Travis messed with a triple-double of 25 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals and knocked down a crucial freebie with a second left that gave Magnolia enough breathing room to fend off Ginebra.
The Gin Kings trailed 83-95 midway through the 4th quarter before erecting a 14-4 run – highlighted by back-to-back Sol Mercado and LA Tenorio triples – to narrow the gap to 2 points with under 30 seconds left.
Paul Lee had a chance to make it a two-possession game for the Hotshots but split his freebies and kept the comeback door ajar for Ginebra, 100-97.
However, the Gin Kings failed to capitalize as Tenorio and Brownlee missed back-to-back triples with Travis corraling the offensive board and drawing the foul to get to the free throw line.
Just like his pal LeBron James ealier, Travis missed both of his foul shots but immediately compensated for them with an offensive rebound and a made freebie that pushed Magnolia's lead to 4 with a second left.
Ian Sangalang finished with 17 points and 4 rebounds, Paul Lee chalked up 14 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds and Rome dela Rosa had 11 points in the win.
Brownlee had 31 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists for Ginebra, which will try to force a Game 4 when the two teams meet again on Game 3 on Wednesday, November 14, at the same venue.
Magnolia 101 - Travis 25, Sangalang 17, Lee 14, Dela Rosa 11, Barroca 9, Jalalon 8, Reavis 6, Melton 5, Simon 5, Herndon 1.
Ginebra 97 - Brownlee 31, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 15, Slaughter 14, Thompson 7, Mercado 7, Mariano 4, Chan 2, Caguioa 2, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 21-18, 47-46, 75-68, 101-97.
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.