Japeth Aguilar and the Gin Kings put themselves in position to take over no. 1 at the end of the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup after another narrow win against Meralco.
Antipolo City, Rizal — Justin Brownlee wasn’t exactly clutch for Brgy. Ginebra against Meralco.
But still, the Gin Kings managed to once again beat the Bolts in a close outing.
Ginebra once again tied idle Star for first place in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, scoring a narrow 90-89 victory over Meralco Sunday at the Ynares Center here.
Tied at 86 with under a minute left, it was Joe Devance that once again bailed Ginebra out against the Bolts in a rematch from the 2016 Governors’ Cup Finals.
After Japeth Aguilar fought teammate Scottie Thompson for a rebound coming off an LA Tenorio miss, Devance picked up the lose ball and calmy sank a floater to give the Gin Kings an 88-86 advantage with 38.9 seconds to go in the game.
Ginebra would go up by four, 90-86, just eight seconds later but Meralco would keep things interesting in the end as Cliff Hodge buried a three to cut the deficit to one.
Brownlee then failed to ice the game for the Gin Kings, missing two free throws, but Ginebra got lucky after Hodge failed to secure an outlet pass from Chris Newsome resulting to a crucial turnover.
“They took us kind of out of what we like to do,” head coach Tim Cone said. “They did a really good job of controlling the tempo, making it kind of a grind out game.”
Brownlee and Tenorio led the Ginebra offense with 22 points apiece while Sol Mercado added 14 off the bench.
Devance actually only scored six points but it was enough to push the Gin Kings to a third straight win and an 8-2 record overall.
On the opposite end, losing three straight games, Meralco got 21 from point guard Baser Amer while import Alex Stephenson bounced back from his previous bad outing, going for 18 points and 20 rebounds.
At 7-4, the Bolts have all but wrapped up the fifth seed in the quarterfinals and will most likely face sister team TNT in a best-of-3 series.
Ginebra 90 – Tenorio 22, Brownlee 22, Mercado 14, Aguilar 11, Thompson 9, Devance 6, Ferrer 2, Mariano 2, Ellis 2, Caguioa 0, Marcelo 0, Taha 0.
Meralco 89 – Amer 21, Stepheson 18, Dillinger 15, Newsome 13, Hodge 13, Nabong 4, Daquioag 3, Chua 2, Yeo 0, Uyloan 0, Hugnatan 0.
Quarters: 22-24, 42-48, 74-69, 90-89.
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