MANILA, Philippines - Third-running Barangay Ginebra kept its unbeaten run in the semifinal round, drubbing tournament pacesetter Rain or Shine, 95-86, to remain in strong contention for the PBA Governors Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Kings shook off a tentative start and outfought the Elasto Painters in the second half to close in on the top two teams – Rain or Shine (9-3) and B-Meg (8-3) – with an 8-4 mark entering the homestretch of the semis.
As Ginebra notched its third straight win in the post-elims play, reigning champion Petron Blaze eventually fell by the wayside with a 6-6 card.
Best Player of the Conference top contender Mark Caguioa erupted for 29 points while Rudy Hatfield added 12 rebounds and eight points as the Kings stretched their hot streak to four games dating back to the elims.
Hatfield became the 36th player to have collected at least 2,000 career defensive rebounds.
Meanwhile, B-Meg isn’t taking also-ran Meralco for granted in their game tonight, vowing to come out with its usual mindset and attitude as it presses its bid for a rare back-to-back PBA Finals.
The Llamados, the Commissioner’s Cup champions, try to inch closer to the Governors Cup best-of-seven title playoff as they go for a fourth straight victory versus the Bolts at 5:15 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Talk n Text tries to preserve whatever is left in its own bid as it plays dethroned champ Petron at 7:30 p.m.
The Llamados made a giant turnaround from 19-point deficits in the first half and sent the Boosters on the edge of the cliff with a stirring 104-93 triumph in their crucial game Wednesday at the Big Dome.
Earlier on the same night, the Tropang Texters smothered the Bolts, 108-84, to keep their flickering finals hopes.
The Texters, however, need to win four more straight games to salvage a playoff crack at the second finals berth.
“We’ve no choice, one miss we die,” said Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes.
The Texters moved on the brink of elimination after losing their last game in the elims against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and their first game in the semis versus the Llamados.
“How I wish we’d won at least one. But that’s basketball. You can’t win all,” rued Reyes.
The Llamados, meanwhile, enhanced their own finals aspiration on their giant come-from-behind win over the Boosters.
Now on a three-game run, the Llamados promise to sustain their romp versus the Bolts.
B-Meg coach Tim Cone admits, however, that they play a “danger game” versus Meralco.
“Coach Ryan Gregorio, for me, is always a tough match-up, and he will have a team that will be playing free and easy without pressure. Those are always the tough ones to beat when you have a lot on the line,” said Cone.
“But we know how important this game is for us and we’ll be ready,” Cone added.
Marcus Blakely erupted for 15 of his 35 points in the last quarter and Jonas Villanueva scored all of his eight points in the same period as the Llamados roared past the Boosters and improved their win-loss record to 8-3.
NOTES: The PBA has revised its schedule of games for Sunday and Monday. The new schedule will now have Meralco and Petron clashing at 4:15 p.m. then B-Meg and Ginebra colliding at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. The lone match on Monday pits Talk n Text versus Rain or Shine.
Ginebra 95 – Caguioa 29, Bozeman 19, Raymundo 15, Helterbrand 11, Hatfield 8, W. Wilson 5, Villanueva 4, Maliksi 2, Cortez 2, Wilson 0, Ababou 0, Maierhofer 0.
Rain or Shine 86 – Lee 19, Chan 14, Cornley 13, Norwood 11, Ibanes 9, Cruz 6, Quinahan 5, Arana 4, Belga 3, Buenafe 2.
Quarterscores: 18-28, 45-45, 70-65, 95-86