Ginebra plays Grinch, steals ‘Christmas Clasico’ from Star

Ginebra plays Grinch, steals ‘Christmas Clasico’ from Star
CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. Ginebra never said die and erased an 18-point fourth quarter deficit to move onto the semifinals while also ousting archrival Star.

Down 18 with 10 minutes remaining on Friday at the MOA Arena, no one – not their opponents, not the crowd, and definitely not themselves – had it on their mind that Ginebra was out of it just yet.

Once again proving that they will “Never day die,” the Barangay came back from the dead against the Star Hotshots in overtime, 92-89, on the back of Sol Mercado and LA Tenorio who shot them right into the next round of the playoffs in the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup.

An astonished coach Tim Cone said in his post-game conference, “I’m just in awe as the fans are. You feel so lousy as a coach and your team makes you look good at the end of the game.”

He also added, “I just feel bad for (Star coach) Jason (Webb). He coached a whole game tonight.”

Indeed, the multi-titled mentor’s former squad and apprentice was giving him fits and built a 72-54 lead with 9:42 left. However, no one was at all surprised when Ginebra clawed their way back via a 26-8 rally that knotted the game at 80 with 3.4 ticks on the clock.

An inbounding error by Star even gave the crowd favorites a chance to win it outright, but Mercado’s wide open layup rolled out of the ring to force overtime. Still, “The Sol Train” remained focused and buried two treys in the extra period that again had both teams neck-and-neck at 89-all.

With four seconds to complete their astonishing comeback, the Barangay again gave the ball to the hot hands of Mercado. Hounded by the Hotshot defense, however, he whipped a pass to Tenorio who then swished the game-winning three.

Mercado ended with 17 points – with four treys coming in the last 5:30 – to go along with six rebounds and five assists while Tenorio chipped in 11 markers of his own to push Ginebra into the next phase of the quarterfinals where they will meet Globalport.

On the other hand, Star bowed out of the conference despite counting four players in double-digits.

BOX SCORES

GINEBRA 92 - Mercado 17, Slaughter 12, Tenorio 11, Caguioa 10, Devance 10, Aguilar 9, Ellis 9, Thompson 9, Helterbrand 3, Cruz 2, Marcelo 0.

STAR 89 - Simon 17, Sangalang 13, Barroca 11, Yap 10, Maliksi 9, Mallari 9, Melton 7, Reavis 4, Taha 4, Cruz 3, Pingris 2, Pascual J. 0, Torres 0. 

QUARTER SCORES: 21-18, 38-37, 54-62, 80-80, 92-89

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