Ginebra came from behind to beat NLEX, 83-75, to return to its winning ways in the PBA Philippine Cup, Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Ginebra took over in the final 18 minutes of the game to steal the victory from NLEX, which was earlier thought to be on its way to a blowout win.
Japeth Aguilar and Arvin Tolentino led the way as the Kings stormed back from 19 points down on the way to frustrating the Road Warriors anew in the rematch of the recent Governors’ Cup semis, which the former won in four games.
Aguilar top-scored for the Barangay with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Tolentino punched a conference-high 17 markers on four treys.
The two came up big particularly in the fourth quarter, with the third-year forward hitting a triple to give his side the 74-73 lead with 4:13 to go.
His senior followed it up with a three-point play conversion with 2:50 left to play to extend the lead to four, and the Kings went rolling from then on. Scottie Thompson and LA Tenorio then applied the finishing moves.
“To be honest with you, I thought we’re gonna get blown out by 20 points, and we were never gonna come back. I’m happy that we found a way, and we got the win,” said Aguilar, who also had three blocks.
Thompson finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Tenorio had 10 points and eight assists as the two helped the bigs chip away the 59-38 deficit in the third by finishing the quarter with a 19-5 run to draw closer.
“I just felt that we did a really good job of staying in the game and battling. It gave us a chance,” said head coach Tim Cone.
“We made some pretty huge adjustments that we don’t usually make in that second half, and ran some stuff that we really don’t even practice. So the guys did a great job of turning themselves around mentally,” Cone added.
The win should definitely serve as a big boost in Ginebra’s morale leading to its rivalry game against San Miguel on Friday at 6 p.m. at the MoA Arena.
Kevin Alas led NLEX with 16 points in the loss that dropped their record to 2-2. Calvin Oftana had 15 points, while Don Trollano added 12.
The Road Warriors hope to immediately get back on track when it faces Meralco (2-1) on Saturday, 7:15 p.m., at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
• Ginebra 83 – Aguilar 20, Tolentino 17, Thompson 15, Tenorio 10, Standhardinger 10, Pinto 5, Caperal 2, Chan 2, Mariano 2, David 0.
• NLEX 75 – Alas 16, Oftana 15, Trollano 12, Chua 8, Rosales 8, Paniamogan 5, Soyud 4, Fonacier 3, Quiñahan 2, Magat 2, Ighalo 0, Miranda 0, Semerad 0.
Quarters: 17-28, 32-45, 58-63, 83-75.