MANILA – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings booked a semifinals berth in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup after a 104-90 win over Meralco Bolts in Game 2 of their best-of-three quarterfinal match Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee led Kings with 36 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Gregory Slaughter added 14 points and 10 rebounds while LA Tenorio contributed 11 markers.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Kings head coach Tim Cone. “A blessing since we have the momentum, playing well. But it’s also a curse because at some point you’ve got to come down from the mountain. Let’s see if we can stay on the mountain.”
In the succeeding match, defending champion San Miguel Beermen relied on decent free throw shooting in the endgame to eliminate TNT KaTropa 106-102 and return to the semifinals.
Kings was down by as much as 9 points early in the game until it started to gain control of the match in the second quarter behind Brownlee, Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, taking a 56-51 lead at the half.
Ginebra continued its run in the third period as Brownlee and Tenorio hit outside shots. They built their biggest lead in the game 85-67 on inside baskets from Aguilar and Solomon Mercado.
Bolts made a final run in the fourth to come to as close as 81-87 but Kings countered with baskets from Tenorio, Brownlee and Slaughter to increase the lead to 102-86.
In the next match, a triple by KaTropa’s Jayson Castro locked the scores 98-all, and then Renaldo Balkman drew foul twice and made four freebies for a 102-98 Beermen lead. Two more free throws from June Mar Fajardo raised the advantage to six.
San Miguel struggled early in the game and fell by double figures before charging late in the second quarter to come to within 55-56 at the half.
KaTropa surged early in the third period but Beermen responded with a run from Alex Cabagnot and Kelly Nabong to take a 91-83 lead. TNT made its last push courtesy of Terrence Romeo, and then Castro’s trey tied the scores at 98.
Balkman posted 25 points, Cabagnot had 21 markers, while Fajardo had double-double 19 points and 12 rebounds for Beermen, which will face Alaska Aces in the best-of-five semifinals./PN