Japeth Aguilar scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Barangay Ginebra labored through 3 overtimes before downing Rain Or Shine 100-92 in the PBA Philippine Cup at Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
With the win, Ginebra secured a best-of-3 series, again against Rain Or Shine, instead of having to go through a longer route to a quarterfinals berth.
"This is exhausting. We just found a way how to grind it out," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.
"We're lucky, but we had a whole bunch of bad luck. Today we got a little lucky."
Two other playoff series are also set.
Magnolia, carrying a twice-to-beat advantage, takes GlobalPort, while Alaska and NLEX engage in a best-of-3 series.
Ginebra's win eliminates Blackwater from the tournament and arranges a play-in game between TNT and Phoenix for the right to face No. 1 seed and defending champion San Miguel Beer.
"For all the things that has been happening to us this conference, I'd like to think it's making us stronger. We're developing our character, were finding ways," Cone said.
By the time Ginebra and Rain Or Shine entered overtime at the Big Dome, the two teams were obviously spent.
In the second extension, they scored only one field goal each.
But as Rain Or Shine missed its free throws, Ginebra found a way to make shots in the third overtime, as Sol Mercado's layup and Jervy Cruz jumper off a Mercado assist inside the real, final 2 minutes proved to be the difference makers.
"It was probably the worst second overtime I've seen all my life. I don't think we hit the rim on the second overtime," Cone said.
"So it's really a game of attrition, we won and now we're gonna end up playing them in the series, Rain Or Shine."
Besides Aguilar, Joe Devance (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Scottie Thompson (10 points, 17 rebounds) finished with double-doubles.
LA Tenorio, who played a game-high 57 minutes, registered 20 points.
Beau Belga led Rain Or Shine with 17 points, while Gabe Norwood chipped in 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 0 turnovers in 51 minutes.
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