It was a close call for Barangay Ginebra, yet the crowd-favorite Kings were able to pull it off as they survived San Miguel Beer, 124-118, in the PBA Philippine Cup 2017 Finals Game 2 on Sunday, at the Quezon Convention Center, Lucena City.
The emphatic victory paved the way for Coach Tim Cone’s wards to even the Best-of-Seven Finals series, which will have its Game 3 on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After opening the ballgame on a sloppy pace, the heat up began when pint-sized hero LA Tenorio alongside second year-wonder Scottie Thompson knocked down the first few baskets which set the momentum for Ginebra.
Yet the Beermen duo of Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross returned the favor as they fired their combined crisp rings as well, thereby making the 8,000-strong crowd inside the Quezon Convention Center wilder.
Things intensified halfway through the second canto when former UST star Kevin Ferrer came off the bench and delivered 18 instant points for the Gin Kings that erected a 26-point bubble for the Governor’s Cup 2016 champions.
San Miguel Beer was starting to put things back on their favor in the middle of the third quarter when Marcio Lassiter, who capped off with 21 big points, got an untimely ejection from the face-off due to a second technical foul.
But this did not hinder the Beermen from doing what they had to do as an aggressive Ronald Tubid filled the void and lashed his off-the-hook baskets, which staged the threatening resurgence of Coach Leo Austria’s ballers.
Tubid only made the Beermen faithful noisier as he knocked down a trey to knot the scores at 93, and another big three to move ahead Ginebra by a point again, 96-95. But SMB’s recouped momentum halted momentarily when another ejection in the like of June Mar Fajardo happened after his 6 fouls.
It could have been the end for Ginebra, but the Kings simply refused to be tamed and hang on to a fired up Aguilar-Tenorio-DeVance-Thompson connection to oust the deficit, most especially when Joe DeVance shot a game-saving putback to force the dogfight to Overtime.
The Beermen continued with their all-out stance against the Gin Kings in the extra session and knotted the scores yet again after Alex Cabagnot’s two-pointer, only to be snapped by Thompson’s 2 points in the charity lane.
As gritty as they are, the Beermen were still unstoppable and Tubid fired another trey to tie the cards at 118-118 with just 1:40 ticks left on the clock. San Miguel almost had its 2-0 Finals record, but Chris Ross listed another ejection for the Beermen in the final minute of overtime.
Cone’s Kings never looked back from there and redeemed their lead after Aguilar’s 2 baskets on the freethrow stripe, followed by Thompson’s 2 hits for a 122-118 mark.
SMB’s three-pointer from Tubid proved to be its last hurrah as Ginebra’s Sol Mercado closed the five-quartered Finals Game 2 with his jumper.
Japeth Aguilar finished with his fiery double-double performance of 23 points and 12 rebounds for Ginebra, while Kevin Ferrer had his big show of 21 points.
Scottie Thompson also delivered another double-double aftermath of 18 markers and 18 boards, then three more Kings finished in double-digits in the likes of DeVance with 16, Tenorio with 15, and Mercado with 11.
San Miguel Beer, on the other hand, was also paced by its double-double performer.
Arwind Santos paced the Beermen with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Chris Ross delivered 16 points and 11 assists before getting fouled out.
BARANGAY GINEBRA (124) – Aguilar 23, Ferrer 21, Thompson 18, Devance 16, Tenorio 15, Mercado 11, Ellis 8, Marcelo 6, Cruz 4, Taha 2
SAN MIGUEL BEER (118) – Santos 23, Lassiter 21, Ross 16, Tubid 16, Cabagnot 13, Espinas 13, Fajardo 10, Heruela 4, De Ocampo 2, Agovida 0, Reyes 0
Quarter Scores: 28-20, 67-43, 85-82, 110-110, 124-118