MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra's hard-fought, exhausting victory against archrivals Star in the "Manila Clasico" on Sunday night could have been a little bit easier -- if only they had made their free throws.
The Gin Kings managed to make only 12 of the 30 charities they attempted, and they faltered even in crunch time when they missed four free throws in the final 22 seconds. One of the misses was particularly brutal: Scottie Thompson's first attempt from the line barely even grazed the net.
Those flubbed charities proved costly. Instead of a more comfortable lead, Ginebra nursed only a three-point edge, 95-92, in the dying seconds of the game, and Star import Malcolm Hill erased that deficit in one fell swoop as he knocked down three clutch charities with six-tenths of a second to go.
Ginebra hacked out a 105-101 victory in overtime, but not before keeping the door open for the Hotshots with a couple of missed charities in the extra period.
"Obviously, we struggled with our free throw shooting, we struggled with out rebounding. We weren't finishing shots well," acknowledged Ginebra coach Tim Cone after the game.
"Basically, I felt that we stole it because I felt that they outplayed us throughout the game," he added.
Cone was aghast, however, at their struggles from the free throw line, especially as it has been an issue for them throughout the conference. Through their first five games, Ginebra has shot only 64% from the free throw line.
"I wish our team could make free throws," Cone said. "We have just not made free throws."
When they were unable to make their charities during a recent out of town game, Cone attributed it to his players just not being used to the rims in a new arena.
To keep bricking at the line at the Big Dome or the Mall of Asia Arena, however, is baffling.
"But we play here so many times, we should be able to make free throws here. It's just so discouraging," Cone lamented.
The multi-titled coach breathed a sigh of relief that they managed to hack out the win, but stressed a need to improve upon their shooting moving forward.
"Back to the drawing board on free throw shooting with our team," he said.
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