PBA Finals: Ginebra takes advantage of Raymond Almazan injury to get back at Meralco
By Jonas Terrado
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. — Meralco vs Ginebra
(Ginebra leads series 2-1)
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel capitalized on the early loss of center Raymond Almazan to defeat Meralco 92-84 Sunday night and gain a 2-1 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee gets past Meralco’s Chris Newsome during Game 3 of the the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, January 12, 2020 (MB Photo|Rio Deluvio)
The Kings broke loose in the third quarter with Stanley Pringle leading the way before holding off the Bolts’ late-game rally to reclaim the series lead after falling short two nights ago in Lucena City.
Pringle scored 17 of his 21 points in the third that saw Ginebra turn a 43-42 halftime lead into 78-55 late in the period while Justin Brownlee had 24 points and nine assists, a far cry from having just one in the first two games.
Brownlee’s final two assists set up an LA Tenorio three and a Japeth Aguilar basket that sealed the deal for Ginebra, delighting most of the 16,000 fans that filled the Big Dome.
Ginebra won on the night Meralco lost Almazan six minutes into the game when he strained his left knee following a missed layup try.
Almazan was undergoing MRI as of posting time at the Makati Medical Center, with the official diagnosis likely to dramatically change the outcome of the best-of-seven title series.
“Huge,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said when asked of Almazan’s loss. “I mean, we talked about it at halftime and I said that this is the time for Japeth and Greg to make a lot of forays in the paint and seal with Raymond Almazan.
“(It was a) big difference. It was a one-point game at halftime and we got up by 20 points. Obviously his presence, or lack of presence, was really felt,” he added.
Cone, however, expects Almazan to be back on Wednesday when Ginebra goes for a commanding 3-1 lead at the Big Dome.
With Almazan out, it was easy for Ginebra to attack the paint. Taking advantage was Pringle, a central figure in the third quarter breakaway when he made high-percentage attempts.
Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle goes for a layup against Meralco’s Bong Quinto, from left, and Reynel Hugnatan during Game 3 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB Photo|Rio Deluvio)
Aguilar also imposed his will inside on his way to 23 points and seven blocks which moved him to 12th all-time in the said category.
Meralco did give Ginebra a scare when it pulled within 87-82 on a three-point play by Allen Durham entering the final two minutes.
But Brownlee found Tenorio for a three-point shot from the left elbow to make it an eight-point game. Chris Newsome answered with a pull-up jumper to trim the gap to 90-84, but Meralco fell short down the stretch.
Allein Maliksi continued his horrendous shooting by missing a three-point attempt while the Bolts turned it over on a shot-clock violation.
Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar, center, makes a layup off Meralco’s Chris Newsome and Allen Durham late in Game 3 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB Photo|Rio Deluvio)
The outcome was cemented on the ensuing play as Brownlee found Aguilar under the basket, 30.9 seconds left.
Newsome and Durham finished with 24 and 23 points for the Bolts in the loss. Backup center Bryan Faundo did provide some lift in Almazan’s absence with 10 points, but coach Norman Black found no other significant contributor the rest of the way.
GINEBRA 92 — Brownlee 24, Aguilar 23, Pringle 21, Tenorio 11, Slaughter 6, Thompson 5, Devance 2, Mariano 0, Dillinger 0.
MERALCO 84 — Newsome 24, Durham 23, Faundo 10, Jackson 8, Amer 6, Pinto 3, Quinto 2, Hodge 2, Almazan 2, Caram 2, Maliksi 2, Hugnatan 0.
Quarters: 24-21; 43-42; 78-58; 92-84.
Tags: 2019 PBA Governors' Cup Finals, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Meralco Bolts, PBA finals, PBA Governors’ Cup, PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, Raymond Almazan