Kings overrun Road Warriors, gain playoff
Games today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs TNT KaTropa
6:45 p.m. – San Miguel vs Alaska
MANILA, Philippines — Barangay Ginebra overcame NLEX’s torrid shooting highlighted by 18 three-pointers, coming from behind to pull off 105-96 victory that formalized the Gin Kings’ playoff passage in the PBA Philippine Cup at the AUF Sports Center in Angeles City, Pampanga last night.
Japeth Aguilar, a proud son of the province from the nearby Sasmuan town, erupted for 27 points, including the dagger baskets at the finish as the Kings clinched the fourth spot in the quarterfinals, joining early qualifiers Phoenix Pulse (9-2), Rain or Shine (8-3), TNT KaTropa (7-3) and San Miguel Beer (6-4).
And at 6-3, the Kings stayed in the running for the No. 2 spot and the twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
In blowing away an early 18-point lead and eventually dropping the Petron Blaze road showdown, the Road Warriors slid down to 4-6, needing to win their last game against the Magnolia Hotshots to get a playoff crack at the eighth and last spot in the quarters.
Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio and Aljon Mariano had clutch plays helping the Kings buck their 18-point deficit and the Road Warriors’ 18-of-46 clip from the arc.
The Road Warriors pulled away early as they bombed away eight treys right in the opening quarter. They took the half at 51-46 on 12-of-23 three-pointers.
The Kings, however, stayed patient and waited for the Road Warriors to start missing before making their own attack.
The game was still close with the Kings ahead by just two at 94-92 when Thompson pulled a steal off JR Quinahan and set up Mariano for a key basket that touched off an 11-4 closing run for Ginebra.
Meanwhile, action swings back to the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight with a critical twinbill pitting TNT KaTropa and NorthPort at 4:30 p.m. then San Miguel Beer against Alaska Milk at 6:45 p.m.
The sizzling KaTropa go for a sixth straight win and an 8-3 (win-loss) closing card in the elims against the NorthPort Batang Pier who fight for survival at 2-6.
A win over the Batang Pier gives the KaTropa a shot at a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals. Their fate, however, will only be known after the Ginebra Kings have played all their remaining games.
A two-way tie between Rain or Shine and TNT will make the KaTropa the No. 2 seed in the playoffs behind the top seed Phoenix Fuel. But if Ginebra makes it a three-way logjam with ROS and TNT, the Kings secure the No. 2 spot by virtue of a superior quotient.
“We have to win our last game and we’ll just see what happens. The rest is beyond our control,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena.
“The important thing is we stick with the things we’re doing – on offense and defense. We want to continue to improve. Hopefully, we get past NorthPort. And whatever happens happens,” Ravena added.
Ginebra 105 – Aguilar 27, Tenorio 17, Thompson 14, Ferrer 14, Slaughter 14, Chan 7, Dela Cruz 7, Mariano 4, Mercado 1, Caperal 0.
NLEX 96 – Erram 16, Quinahan 15, Tiongson 12, Galanza 12, Paniamogan 8, Ighalo 8, Tallo 8, Magat 6, Lao 5, Soyud 3, Taulava 3, Baguio 0.
Quarterscores: 30-19, 51-46, 72-74, 96-105