By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s touted never-say-die attitude once again propelled them to a hard-earned win as they clawed their way back from a 19-point deficit to stun the NLEX Road Warriors, 83-75, in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup.
With 7:12 remaining in the third quarter, head coach Tim Cone and the rest of the Gin Kings found themselves in deep trouble after NLEX’s crafty guard Kevin Alas sank a leftie looping layup that ballooned their lead to 19, 39-58.
However, Ginebra still stuck to their gameplan and ramped up their defensive intensity after holding the Road Warriors scoreless in the next five minutes of the ball game that helped them trim the deficit to just six, 52-58.
Don Trollano broke NLEX’s scoring drought after burying a trey from the right corner but the rest of the game swung Ginebra’s way as Japeth Aguilar, Arvin Tolentino, Scottie Thompson, and LA Tenorio joined hands to turn the tables around.
Nards Pinto electrified the Ginebra crowd after giving them their first taste of the lead with six minutes in the final canto after converting on a fastbreak layup.
NLEX was able to regain the lead courtesy of another Trollano three-pointer at the 4:30 mark but that became their final stand of the game as Ginebra snowballed their way and ballooned their lead to six, 81-75, after a Thompson side-step layup over Alas.
It was a waxing-hot start for the Road Warriors after an offensive showcase from point guard Kris Rosales who was just draining his signature perimeter jumpers at will in the first quarter.
After Rosales subbed out, Alas, Calvin Oftana, and veteran big man JR Quiñahan shouldered the scoring load before the rest of the Gin Kings regrouped and went back to their offensive schemes.
Aguilar led all Ginebra scorers with 20 big points including seven rebounds and three blocks while perimeter marksman Tolentino contributed 17 points built from 4/9 shooting from downtown.
Meanwhile, the Road Warriors had balanced scoring from Alas with 16, Oftana with 15, Trollano with 12, and Rosales with 8 but were not enough to contain the Ginebra second-half blitz.