Ginebra's Greg Slaughter tries to muscle his way past Air21's Asi Taulaca and Mac Cardona. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Air21 weathered Barangay Ginebra's last-minute fightback and hammered out a 97-95 win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
Wesley Witherspoon topscored for the Express with 25 points. Joseph Yeo added 18 for Air21, which improved its record to 3-3.
The Express looked dominant in the first 3 quarters of the game, leading by 13 late in the third period.
But Gin Kings pulled within 2 points after benching Leon Rodgers and going all-Filipino in the payoff period, 80-82.
The Express then surged ahead and racked a 96-90 lead going into the final two minutes.
Jayjay Helterbrand rifled a triple and Billy Mamaril scored a basket to again cut the deficit to 95-96. The Gin Kings tried to buy time by fouling Witherspoon, who split his charities for a 97-95 advantage, 4 ticks left.
Ginebra then brought Rodgers into the game, but his attempt to save the Gin Kings went to naught after he failed to connect in his final shot.
Rodgers finished the game with 18 points, while Japeth Aguilar added 15.
Ginebra now has 4 losses in 6 games.
Air21 97 – Witherspoon 25, Yeo 18, Cardona 15, Borboran 10, Ramos 10, Taulava 9, Villanueva 6, Burtscher 2, Atkins 2, Camson 0.
Barangay Ginebra 95 – Rodgers 18, Aguilar 15, Slaughter 12, Ellis 10, Helterbrand 10, Tenorio 9, Baracael 6, Reyes 6, Mamaril 4, Urbiztondo 3, Caguioa 2.
Quarterscores: 27-25, 57-48, 80-70, 97-95