For the 22 minutes that bridged the first two quarters of the game, the NLEX Road Warriors seemed poised to stun the Ginebra faithful at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. Not wanting to disappoint the packed coliseum, however, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel flipped the switch in the third frame and turned a close game into a blowout.
“It was a key game for us to win. We needed that for the standings. It was a good win to build momentum since we are coming off a 13 day break,” said second year Ginebra head coach, as they go up to 3-1.
As they forced the Road Warriors into numerous errors in the second half, the Barangay Ginebra were able to pick up their third win of the conference in a 101-92 victory over the still-winless NLEX on Wednesday night.
“It doesn’t feel like three straight wins because they are far apart. We play good in the second half in our last three games but I would like to see us play good defensively in the first quarter,” Cone continued.
Justin Brownlee paced Ginebra with 18 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. LA Tenorio, who played in his 497th consecutive game, anchored the Gin Kings with 13 points, five assists, and three steals.
“We like the way we are playing like when Justin finds his rhythm because we find our rhythm. LA got more fire in the second half as well,” the winningest head coach in PBA history remarked.
NLEX led by as much as 11 points, 43-32, in the second frame, but Ginebra were able to make a 15-5 rally to cut the lead to just a solitary point entering the half.
After the halftime break, Ginebra clamped down on defense, forcing NLEX into a mind-boggling 11 turnovers in the third frame that led to 18 points. Moreover, Brownlee and Tenorio combined for five of Ginebra’s eight steals during the quarter, while they were also responsible for 20 of Ginebra’s 42 third quarter points.
At the end of the blitz, the Gin Kings held an imposing 27-point lead, 89-62. Ginebra led by as many as 31 points, 91-62, early in the fourth quarter.
“The team did its job in the third quarter giving the opportunity for the other guys in the fourth quarter. But they did not do their job,” Cone lamented.
However, Ginebra’s bench was not able to keep up the momentum, scoring just 12 points in the final frame that “left a sour taste” in Cone’s mouth.
Wayne Chism led NLEX with 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of game time. Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Eric Camson added 14 and 11 markers respectively. Collectively, though, the Road Warriors shot just 40 percent from the field and a horrid 3-for-26 from downtown.
NLEX lost their 11th straight game, with their last victory coming last January 7, 2017.
Ginebra will next face TNT on Sunday, April 23, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. On the other hand, NLEX will have a 13-day break before facing the Blackwater Elite on Wednesday, May 3, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra (101) – Brownlee 18, Devance 18, Aguilar 17, Tenorio 13, Ellis 9, Thompson 5, Mercado 5, Taha 4, Cruz 4, Ferrer 3, Marcelo 2, Caguioa 2, De Guzman 1, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, Mariano 0.
NLEX (92) – Chism 16, Al-Hussaini 14, Camson 11, Lastimosa 8, Anthony 6, Khobuntin 6, Rios 5, Soyud 5, Alas 4, Baracael 4, Lanete 4, Guinto 3, Monfort 3, Tiongson 3, Villanueva J. 0.
Quarterscores: 27-28; 47-48; 89-62; 101-92.