Gin Kings back on throne
Ginebra center/forward Japeth Aguilar soars for a one-hander versus Meralco import Allen Durham early in Game Five.

Gin Kings back on throne

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2020 - 12:00am

Aguilar claims Finals MVP award

MANILA, Philippines —Time to raise the glass, the Kings have returned!

Barangay Ginebra reclaimed the PBA Governors’ Cup throne last night to loud cheers at a packed MOA Arena, shutting off the Raymond Almazan-less Meralco Bolts once and for all with a 105-93 closeout last night.

The Gin Kings were forced to play catchup most of the way by a Meralco side desperately fighting for dear life, but energized by chants of “Gi-neb-ra, Gi-neb-ra”  from majority of the 17,378-strong crowd, unleashed their trademark never-say-die spirit to steal the clinching win.

Justin Brownlee did it all, scoring, rebounding, assisting. Stanley Pringle made spectacular shots. Japeth Aguilar, the eventual Honda PBA Press Corps Finals MVP, was a rock in the interior, dunking and swatting shots. And LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Aljon Mariano hit timely buckets.

Coach Tim Cone and his charges simply didn’t want to let it slip away and give Meralco a sliver of hope.

“I felt at halftime, when we’re able to bring down their (14-point) lead to six, we had a chance to come back and win the game. We were very sluggish early but when we made that little run at the end of the half, that gave us a lift, and that was the key,” said the triumphant Kings coach, now tied with the legendary Robert Jaworski as Ginebra’s winningest with four titles.

As with their previous triumphs, the Gin Kings unravellled another huge third quarter to swing the momentum their way.

Brownlee dropped 10 and Thompson and Tenorio made five apiece as Ginebra outduelled Meralco in the penultimate period, 30-18, and seized the upperhand, 70-64, after falling behind by 14 in the second canto.

Aguilar (25 points, eight rebounds with four blocks), Brownlee (24-7-10), first-time PBA champ Pringle (17-4-8), Thompson (14-9-6) and Tenorio (12) delivered the coup de grace for Ginebra, which is now 3-0 versus Meralco in titular showdowns.

“Our guys played great. To beat a team like Meralco three straight, that’s really something,” said Cone.

Allen Durham posted 29-21-8 for the Bolts, whose bid was hurt by the lateral meniscus tear (left knee) that hit Almazan in Game 3. The 6-foot-8 Almazan still played Game 4 but sat it out last night.

Facing life or death, the Bolts played with so much urgency and purpose.

Allein Maliksi fuelled a 10-2 blast to end the first, giving the Bolts a 26-19 cushion. Baser Amer found his range and rifled in eight in the second, helping the Bolts to a 39-25 margin at one point and 46-35 at the 2:08 mark.

But Ginebra chipped it down to six at the turn and went forward from there.

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