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Ginebra battles negativity, turns back Meralco to close in on PBA finals




MANILA, Philippines, May 27 ------ Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone still remembers how dispirited the entire Gin Kings were after they got badly beaten by Meralco in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals. Although Ginebra threatened a last-ditch comeback in the 87-80 loss, the Bolts looked one step ahead in every way as they then grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. But the Gin Kings kept the faith.


Overcoming doubt and adversity, Ginebra now stares at a potential return trip to the All-Filipino finals for the first time in four years after bouncing back with back-to-back wins, turning back Meralco in an 89-84 Game 5 win on Sunday, May 26, at the Mall of Asia Arena.


Christian Standhardinger carried the scoring load and fired 34 points on top of 10 rebounds and 5 assists as the Gin Kings stormed back from a 15-point deficit to regain control of the semifinals. “So much of this game is mental, and so much of this game is trying to stay positive and battle through the negativity that often happens when [we] start to think we’re going to lose, or we keep making mistakes,” said Cone. “That is what I’m most proud about – our guys’ ability to battle and fight through all of that adversity and find a way to win.”


Ginebra has never lost a Game 5 against the Bolts in the three times they faced off in a best-of-seven clash when the series is tied at 2-2. Initially though, that streak looked set to be broken as Meralco took a commanding 59-44 lead midway through the third quarter off a Cliff Hodge bucket.


Refusing to go down without a fight, Standhardinger and the Gin Kings came together and ended the period on a 23-10 rally capped by a buzzer-beating triple by LA Tenorio that cut their deficit to 67-69. “You have to battle through that negativity and really fight to stay positive. And when you get lifts like that, like a shot like LA made at the end of that third quarter, that really lifted us going into the timeout,” said Cone. “Instead of battling what would have been negativity, we were locked in and ready to move forward because we were all positive.”


Following a nip and tuck first six minutes in the fourth frame that resulted in an 82-82 deadlock, Ginebra wrapped it up on a 7-2 run ended by a Standhardinger jump shot as the Bolts went scoreless in the last three minutes. Maverick Ahanmisi backstopped Standhardinger in scoring with 13 points on top of 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Japeth Aguilar supplied a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Scottie Thompson bucked a rough shooting performance that saw him miss 8 of his 10 field goals by posting all-around numbers of 5 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal.


The Gin Kings have a chance to close it out in Game 6 on Wednesday, May 29, at the Araneta Coliseum as they aim to return to the Philippine Cup finals for the first time since they ruled the 2020 edition.


Chris Banchero paced Meralco with 18 points and 6 assists, although he got limited to just 2 points in the second half, while Chris Newsome finished with 17 points, albeit on a poor 5-of-19 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Hodge also had 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the losing effort.


The Scores:

Barangay Ginebra 89 – Standhardinger 34, Ahanmisi 13, J.Aguilar 10, Pringle 9, Tenorio 7, Pinto 5, Cu 5, Thompson 5, Pessumal 1, Onwubere 0, Murrell 0.

Meralco 84 – Banchero 18, Newsome 17, Hodge 14, Maliksi 13, Caram 8, Quinto 7, Almazan 4, Bates 3, Pascual 0, Torres 0, Dario 0.

Quarters: 22-19, 40-44, 67-69, 89-84.


Source: rappler.com

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