The crown nonetheless rests on the heads of the Gin Kings.
For the way for much longer will rely upon whether or not Barangay Ginebra can weave its never-say-die magic in opposition to a sharp-looking TNT, the PBA Philippine Cup’s present No. 1 squad which owns twice-to-beat safety within the first spherical of the playoffs.
It was much less its capability to buck the percentages that purchased Ginebra the final ticket to the playoffs because it was its capability to play protection, holding down Phoenix high gun Matthew Wright to a frosty efficiency from the ground in a 95-85 victory on Saturday that breathed life right into a title protection that has been hanging by a thread.
“Now we have a white board within the locker room and we had one title up there on the white board, just one title. We had different issues we talked about, however we solely had one title, and that title was Wright,” mentioned Ginebra head coach Tim Cone after the sport at Don Honorio Ventura State College in Bacolor, Pampanga. “He was clearly our goal tonight.”
“We felt that they had been going to have a fantastic sport tonight and it was going to return from him,” Cone added.
Gutting it out
The Kings held Wright to 14 factors on 5-of-22 (.227) capturing from the sphere and their protection on him bled unto different key Gasoline Masters: Huge man Jason Perkins had 15 factors on a shivery 5-of-14 efficiency (.357) as Phoenix shot a pedestrian 33 % from the ground (32 of 96).
The protection was a results of what Cone described as a choice to intestine it out as a substitute of merely throwing the towel.
“We didn’t count on to be in this sort of sport coming into this factor. We talked about it yesterday, earlier than the sport, that we are able to both stroll away from this factor and give up or we may arise, take duty and proceed to struggle,” Cone mentioned. “There are solely two selections. I give them credit score, they selected the harder one, which was to face up and proceed to struggle.”
Starring for Ginebra was Prince Caperal, final season’s Most Improved Participant, who led the Gin Kings’ scoring with 19 factors. Jared Dillinger was simply as essential, including 13 extra to assist plug the holes left by Japeth Aguilar (knee pressure) and Scottie Thompson (well being protocols).
They may want the identical contributions from each a part of their roster, particularly with Aguilar tipped to be out for the remainder of the playoffs and with no timetable nonetheless for Thompson’s return. And particularly since beating the Tropang Giga will take greater than only a choice to struggle on.
“They’re extraordinarily, extraordinarily assured and so they’re taking part in extraordinarily good basketball. They’ve hardly been touched,” Cone mentioned of TNT.
The Tropang Giga have misplaced simply as soon as within the match to this point, an 83-67 rout by the hands of San Miguel Beer final Sept. 8. However coach Chot Reyes’ wards have rebounded strongly since that defeat, even crushing Ginebra, 88-67, two weeks in the past, making them overwhelming favorites of their playoff matchup.
However what’s a Ginebra title protection with out seemingly insurmountable odds, proper?
“We all know our highway is hard,” mentioned Cone. “There’s little question about it. However our guys will battle.”
Stanley Pringle added 17 factors, eight rebounds and 4 assists for Ginebra whereas Christian Standhardinger chipped in 15 factors and 12 boards that made up for his seven turnovers. The Gin Kings took command within the second interval, assembling an 18-8 run to grab a 49-38 lead heading into the break.
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