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Kings catch last bus

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Kings catch last bus
Stanley Pringle of Ginebra dribbles past Nick Demusis of Phoenix in last night’s knockout game.
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Earn crack at no.1 Tropang Giga

MANILA, Philippines — Embattled champ Barangay Ginebra lives to fight another day in the 46th PBA Philippine Cup wars in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The never-say-die Gin Kings fought furiously to survive their win-or-go-home duel against Phoenix, 95-85, and grab the very last seat in the quarterfinals yesterday at the Don Honorio Ventura State U Gym.

Prince Caperal and Jared Dillinger stepped up and fired 19 and 13, respectively, to complement the efforts of Stanley Pringle (17) and Christian Standhardinger (15 plus 12 rebounds) as the short-handed Gin Kings advanced and kept their title-retention bid alive.

“Here we are. We didn’t expect to be in this kind of game coming into this thing. But you have a choice – you either keep going or back off – and our guys decided to keep going,” said coach Tim Cone, whose team netted a spot in the do-or-die despite a meager 4-7 elims record.

“Hopefully, we’re gonna take that attitude going into our next game against TNT,” he added.

Unlike the struggling defending titlist, the top-seeded Tropang Giga have been a strong force throughout the tournament. The Tropang Giga enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage against Ginebra in their coming faceoff and will be motivated to get back at their conquerors in the 2020 finale.

The Gin Kings seized a 17-point tear against Phoenix then quelled the latter’s late uprising to get the job done despite the absence of Japeth Aguilar (MCL strain) and Scottie Thompson (health protocols).

Jason Perkins topscored with 15 for the Fuel Masters, who were also undermanned with Vic Manuel (groin injury) and Justin Chua (health protocols) out of commission.

Meanwhile, No. 3 Magnolia and No. 6 Rain or Shine kick off their best-of-three quarterfinal duel today at 2 p.m. followed by the opener of the other race-to-two affair between No. 4 San Miguel Beer and No. 5 NorthPort.

Notes: NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena has been formally cleared by the Road Warriors and the PBA to skip the remainder of the Philippine Cup and suit up for the Shiga Lakestars in the Japan B. League. “Ni-release na siya ng NLEX. Okay na rin sa PBA,” commissioner Willie Marcial said. Ravena is set to debut on Oct. 2 against brother Thirdy and the San-en NeoPhoenix. Ravena will rejoin NLEX after one season with Shiga.

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