MANILA, Philippines – Same finals foe, same result.
Barangay Ginebra reasserted its mastery over Meralco to capture the 2019-20 PBA Governors' Cup crown in 5 games with a come-from-behind 105-93 win at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, January 17.
Import Justin Brownlee once again showed the way with 24 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds as the Gin Kings won their third Governors' Cup title in the last 4 seasons – all at the expense of the Bolts.
Losing the Best Import award to Meralco counterpart Allen Durham for the third time, Brownlee came away with a much important trophy, winning his fourth PBA championship with Ginebra.
Brownlee was at the forefront of their third-quarter turnaround after scoring 10 of their 30 points in the period, which saw the Gin Kings turn a 40-46 halftime deficit to a 70-64 lead heading into the last frame.
The locals also shone in the title clincher with starters LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Stanley Pringle, and Scottie Thompson breaching double figures in scoring to help Ginebra win its 12th title in franchise history.
Four of those crowns came under the tutelage of Tim Cone, who extended his record of most PBA titles with 22.
Aguilar backstopped Brownlee with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks, scoring 11 in the title-clinching 19-9 run the Gin Kings used en route to winning his first PBA Press Corps Finals MVP award.
The Bolts came knocking within one possession midway through the final quarter, 84-86, before Aguilar dominated as he capped off his performance with back-to-back dunks in the last two minutes.
Pringle – who won his maiden PBA title – had 17 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds, Thompson chalked up 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Tenorio put up 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
On the other hand, the Bolts remained without a PBA championship as they failed to crack the code of the Gin Kings, whom they lost to in the finals of the Governors' Cup in the 2016 and 2017 editions.
Meralco was primed to force a Game 6 after leading 59-52 before Ginebra uncorked a blistering 14-1 run – highlighted by back-to-back Tenorio and Joe Devance three-pointers – to complete turn the tides.
Durham once again ended his stint with the Bolts on a sour note as he lost his third PBA finals series despite recording a near-triple-double of 29 points, 21 rebounds, and 8 assists in all 48 minutes of play.
Baser Amer had 17 points and 4 rebounds, Chris Newsome pumped in 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Cliff Hodge added 10 points and 7 rebounds for Meralco, which played without Raymond Almazan.
Almazan played through the meniscal tear on his left knee in Game 4 but decided to sit out Game 5 – leaving a gaping hole for the Bolts on both ends.
Barangay Ginebra 105 - Aguilar 25, Brownlee 24, Pringle 17, Thompson 14, Tenorio 12, Mariano 6, Devance 3, Dela Cruz 2, Slaughter 2, Dillinger 0.
Meralco 93 - Durham 29, Amer 17, Newsome 13, Hodge 10, Quinto 9, Maliksi 9, Faundo 2, Pinto 2, Caram 2, Salva 0.
Quarters: 19-26, 40-46, 70-64, 105-93
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.