Ginebra completes Manila Clasico comeback to make PBA Finals
Paul Lintag on Feb 21, 2017 09:25 PM
The barangay is on to a second straight PBA Finals appearance after winning Manila Clasico in seven games.
Never say die right?
Brgy. Ginebra advanced to its second straight PBA Finals after beating Star in Game 7 of the Philippine Cup Manila Clasico semis, 89-76, Tuesday at the MOA Arena.
Recovering from a flat start, the Hotshots came knocking early in the fourth quarter and cut the Ginebra lead to only three points, 65-68.
However, LA Tenorio hit a booming triple following a bad Jio Jalalon turnover to push the Gin Kings up, 71-65, with nine minutes to go. Ginebra never looked back from that point on.
Over the course of the next four minutes, the Gin Kings pounded on Star to put the game and the series away, completing the comeback from 0-2 and 2-3 down.
"Wow, seven-game Manila Clasico. Who could ask for more. It was tough, sometimes it can be really tough leading in those games because the pressure falls on you now, the expectations are on you to win, and you end up trying to be a little bit careful and play not to lose," head coach Tim Cone said.
"But our guys did a good job of pushing and pushing and battling and battling. It was an amazing series, truly amazing series. I'm so happy we were able to come out on top," he added.
Sol Mercado punctuated his incredible series with a game-high 23 points, four rebounds, and five assists while Tenorio added 21 points, 17 in the second half (10 points in the fourth), four rebounds, and five dimes. Japeth Aguilar contributed 19 points on 80 percent shooting.
Following a big Game 6 win to tie the series, Ginebra opened the floodgates early in Game 7, putting up a 15-point advantage early in the second quarter, 33-18.
The Hotshots would settle down though, making the game close by the third period but never really got over the hump.
With Star's backcourt struggling in Game 7, Allein Maliksi took it upon himself to carry the Hotshots on offense and finished with 22 points including 12 in the third period. He was, however, helf scoreless in the fourth.
Marc Pingris came through with another brilliant all-around effort of 17 points, eight rebounds, and six assists but it was not enough to push Star to its first Finals appearance since its Grand Slam season.
The Gin Kings not engage sister team and two-time defending champion San Miguel in the Finals that will open Friday also at the MOA Arena.
Ginebra (89) - Mercado 23, Tenorio 21, Aguilar 19, Thompson 10, Devance 7, Cruz 6, Ferrer 2, Marcelo 1, Ellis 0, Caguioa 0.
Star (76) - Maliksi 22, Pingris 17, Ramos 14, Barroca 8, Reavis 5, Jalalon 4, Lee 4, Melton 2, Sangalang 0, Simon 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarterscores: 26-16, 45-36, 65-61, 89-76.
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