MANILA, Philippines – Justin Brownlee came to the rescue for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings as they escaped with a hard-fought 103-102 victory over the Alaska Aces to extend their winning streak to five games in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra squandered all of a double-digit third-quarter lead, played the final three minutes without an available timeout, and was trailing by six points with three minutes left before regaining their bearings.
A lay-up by Joe Devance and a booming triple by Kevin Ferrer made it a one-point game, 100-101, with still 2:13 left, but the Gin Kings wasted a bevy of chances to take the lead with LA Tenorio, Ferrer, and Scottie Thompson all bricking potential go-ahead shots.
Alaska had a chance to ice the game with 19 seconds left when the Gin Kings sent Chris Banchero to the line, but unfortunately for the Aces, he could only convert the second of his two free throws for a 102-100 advantage.
Nineteen seconds proved to be enough time for Brownlee, who took Alaska import Cory Jefferson off the dribble before stretching for a lay-up and drawing a foul. He completed the three-point play, giving Ginebra a 103-102 lead with just 7.2 seconds to go.
The Aces still had time to regain the advantage, but Jefferson air-balled a jump shot, and JVee Casio's final attempt also misfired.
Alaska has now lost three straight games to drop to 4-3, while Ginebra improved to 5-1 and stayed on track for a Top Two spot in the quarterfinals.
"We certainly battled through a lot of adversity in that game," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. "We made it through the last six minutes without a timeout, and down the stretch, that made it difficult."
"But guys are used to playing down the stretch and making plays, and they did that on both sides, defense and offense," he added.
Brownlee finished with a game-high 37 points on top of 14 rebounds and six assists, making 13 of his 25 field goal attempts. Four other Ginebra players finished in double-digits, and the Gin Kings converted 21 of their 29 free throws.
"That's just Justin being Justin," Cone said of Brownlee's game-winner. "He's just an intelligent player."
Ginebra looked as though they were cruising to victory after outscoring Alaska, 30-20, in the third period to pull away after leading by just one, 57-56, at the half. Brownlee was unstoppable in the frame, scoring 16 points on a variety of shots.
But Alaska, using its full court press to force Ginebra into turnovers, outscored the Gin Kings, 25-8, in the first nine minutes of the final quarter to turn what had been as big as a 13-point deficit into a 101-95 lead.
Simon Enciso banked in a jumper to put the Aces on top, 96-95, before Jefferson converted a transition lay-up then splashed in a triple for the 101-95 lead that forced Cone to burn his final timeout of the game.
Ginebra, however, finished the game on an 8-1 run to salvage the victory.
Jefferson led Alaska with 25 points while also grabbing 18 rebounds, while Vic Manuel scored 13, and Casio added 12.
GINEBRA 103 - Brownlee 37, Devance 12, Tenorio 11, Thompson 11, Caguioa 10, Ferrer 6, Mercado 6, Ellis 6, Marcelo 4, Cruz 0.
ALASKA 102 - Jefferson 25, Manuel 13, Casio 12, Thoss 9, Banchero 9, Hontiveros 9, Racal 8, Exciminiano 7, Enciso 6, Pascual 4, Andrada 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarter scores: 32-30, 57-56, 87-76, 103-102
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.