MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Barangay Ginebra turned what was touted as a gritty battle against San Miguel into a cakewalk as it drew first blood in the best-of-7 affair for the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup championship.
Justin Brownlee couldn't have played any better by delivering a near triple-double performance for the Gin Kings, who toyed with the Beermen, 127-99, in Game 1 at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, July 27.
The American import shot a scintillating 17-of-19 from the field for a whopping 42 points on top of 9 assists, 7 rebounds and two blocks as Ginebra dismissed the underdog tag by dealing San Miguel its worst loss of the conference.
While it was solely Brownlee's night, Ginebra also had solid local support with 4 other players finishing in double figures.
Joe Devance finished with 20 points on an 8-of-13 clip with 4 assists, 3 rebound and 3 steals and Greg Slaughter and Mark Caguioa teamed up for 22 points and 11 boards for the Gin Kings.
Sol Mercado added 10 points and 3 boards, LA Tenorio had 9 points, 8 rebounds, 3 rebounds and two steals while Scottie Thompson chalked up 7 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds in the win.
"I think everybody was surprised by that game," said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone."
"It was just one of those nights where we had it, they didn't. We were firing on all cylinders, and we kind of got them on their heels early and just never let up."
The game already had the makings of a blowout after Brownlee scattered 29 points (12-of-13 shooting) of his output in the first half for a comfortable 69-50 Ginebra halftime cushion.
Entering the 4th frame trailing 75-94, the Beermen had 12 minutes to stage a comeback but the Gin Kings dropped a 25-5 bomb – highlighted by two triples apiece from Brownlee and Sol Mercado – for a 119-80 advantage.
In the end, Gin Kings sank 51 of their 83 shot attempts for a jaw-dropping 61.4% shooting and drilled in 13 of their 25 3-point attempts for a 52% clip.
The Beermen, on the other hand, shot a respectable 39% from the field despite having 17 more shots than Ginebra.
Renaldo Balkman paced San Miguel with 27 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks while Christian Standhardinger saw his career-high 26 points go for naught.
June Mar Fajardo was the only other player in double figures in the losing effort with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 2 is on Sunday, July 29, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra (127): Brownlee 42, Devance 20, Slaughter 11, Caguioa 11, Mercado 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 7, Ferrer 7, Mariano 4, Chan 2, Cruz 2, J. Aguilar 2, Manuel 2
San Miguel (99): Balkman 27, Standhardinger 26, Fajardo 13, Santos 8, Lassiter 6, Cabagnot 5, Nabong 5, Ross 4, Lanete 3, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Pessumal 0
Quarter scores: 35-20, 69-50, 94-75, 127-99
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.