MANILA (UPDATED) - Barangay Ginebra had all the answers as they seized a crucial 115-110 victory against the Meralco Bolts, Sunday at a jam-packed Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings' victory in Game 5 of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup Finals gave them a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series against the Bolts, and put them on the cusp of a fourth championship in the last five editions.
Ginebra was on fire from long distance, netting 16 out of 34 three-pointers to surge ahead of the Bolts. Their 16 triples equalled a franchise record; the Gin Kings also had 16 three-pointers against NLEX in Game 4 of their semifinals series.
Their 16th and last three-pointer was a crucial one: Scottie Thompson knocked down a triple with 2:17 to go to cap a 7-0 blast that gave them some separation, 105-97, after the Bolts had come within one.
"We did a great job of making shots all night. We had big shots the whole game. I didn't think it was sustainable, but we were able to sustain it," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said after the game. "Our guys made big shots. Made big plays, made big shots."
Justin Brownlee made 13 of his 17 shots en route to 40 points, and Scottie Thompson was sensational once again, tallying 19 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. The Gin Kings also got a big lift from Arvin Tolentino who had 16 points in the game. Christan Standhardinger contributed 13 points, six of which came in the final quarter.
Ginebra can wrap up the series on Wednesday, still at the Big Dome.
The Gin Kings were on fire from beyond the arc in the third quarter, making six of 11 attempts. But they could not gain much distance from the Bolts, and Meralco trailed by just nine points, 82-73, heading into the final quarter.
Their lead reached 14 points, 96-82, off an Arvin Tolentino layup with under eight minutes left before Meralco mounted a stirring comeback behind import Tony Bishop. Held in check throughout the first half, Bishop sparked a blistering 15-2 rally that allowed the Bolts to make it a one-point game, 99-98, with still under five minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, they could not quite get over the hump. Off a timeout, Thompson assisted on a Standhardinger jumper, and Mac Belo missed a layup on the other end. Standhardinger nailed another jump shot in Ginebra's next trip for a 102-97 lead with three and a half minutes left.
Meralco would rue their inability to complete defensive possessions in the clutch. A stunning offensive rebound by Thompson off an LA Tenorio miss gave Ginebra another chance; Jeff Chan also misfired on a triple by Standhardinger was there to give the Gin Kings another possession.
Thompson made sure that there would be no need for another offensive board, drilling the triple that made it 102-97 with 2:17 to play.
"We made a couple of nice plays, when they got it down to one, and Scottie hit that big 3 to give us some breathing room. But it could have gone either way," Cone later said.
The Bolts got late points courtesy of Bishop and Aaron Black, but were unable to come up with the necessary stops on the other end of the floor.
Bishop, after going scoreless in the first quarter, finished with 30 points -- 18 in the fourth quarter alone. Black re-set his career-high with 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. Chris Newsome added 27 points with six rebounds and five assists.
But the Bolts once again struggled to contain Ginebra's perimeter shooting, and the Gin Kings shot 51.3% from the field in the victory.
Barangay Ginebra 115 - Brownlee 40, Thompson 19, Tolentino 16, Standhardinger 13, Tenorio 10, Pinto 6, Aguilar 6, Chan 3.
Meralco - Bishop 30, Newsome 27, Black 25, Maliksi 12, Almazan 6, Belo 4, Hodge 2, Banchero 2, Quinto 2.
Quarters: 25-22, 54-43, 82-73, 115-110.