MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATED) The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings proved to be the steadier team down the stretch as they outlasted GlobalPort, 104-97, to stay unbeaten in the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Japeth Aguilar sparked a fiery wind-up in the fourth period, as the Gin Kings outscored the Batang Pier, 9-1, in the final two minutes and 21 seconds of the game to steal the victory.
Ginebra now has a 2-0 record, joining defending All-Filipino champion San Miguel Beer at the top of the league standings.
But head coach Tim Cone was admittedly "disturbed" at how the Gin Kings pulled out the victory, as they trailed by nine points entering the final period and were still down by five with just under six minutes left. For most of the game, they simply had no answer for GlobalPort's Sean Anthony, who had 29 points, or Stanley Pringle who had 23 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.
"We might have been better off losing this basketball game to wake us up," said Cone, who was disappointed at how the Gin Kings "sleep-walked" in the first three and a half quarters before going to work in crunch time.
"We stole this one tonight," he admitted. "We can't expect to steal other wins. We have got to be better from here."
The Batang Pier, still playing without Terrence Romeo, looked to be on the brink of an upset as they seized a five-point advantage, 91-86, with 5:48 to go off a three-pointer from Anthony.
Ginebra responded with a 9-2 run, sparked by an LA Tenorio three-pointer and capped by a monster slam dunk by Aguilar off an assist by Aljon Mariano, to roar to a 95-93 lead with 3:20 to go.
GlobalPort answered through Pringle, who pulled up for a three-pointer for a 96-93 advantage with 2:44 left. Unfortunately for the Batang Pier, it was their last lead of the game. Aguilar broke free for a lay-up on the other end, and was fouled by Ryan Arana to boot. He then completed the three-point play, for a 98-96 lead, giving the Gin Kings the lead for good.
A split at the line by Pringle in GlobalPort's next possession made it a one-point game, but it was the last time they got on the board as Aljon Mariano, Scottie Thompson, and Greg Slaughter put the finishing touches on Ginebra's win.
"I'm not happy," said Cone. "I'm okay with the win, but I'm not happy about the way we played."
Aguilar finished with a team-high 21 points, while Slaughter had 18 points and nine rebounds. Thompson was all over the place for the Gin Kings, coming up with nine points, 11 boards, and eight assists.
Nabong contributed a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards for GlobalPort, while rookie guard Julian Sargent had 12 points.
The Batang Pier made 13 of their 31 three-point attempts, but gave up 25 offensive rebounds that Ginebra turned into 26 second chance points.
GINEBRA 104 - Aguilar 21, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 17, Mariano 11, Cruz 10, Thompson 9, Ferrer 8, Caguioa 7, Taha 3.
GLOBALPORT 97 - Anthony 29, Pringle 23, Nabong 12, Sargent 12, Grey 9, Guinto 7, Arana 5, Taha 0, Elorde 0, Flores 0, Gabayni 0.
Quarter scores: 19-23, 46-48, 68-77, 104-97
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