MANILA, Philippines—Another title drought has ended for Barangay Ginebra.
The Gin Kings used a tremendous third quarter to overwhelm San Miguel Beer, 93-77, in Game 6 of the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals on Wednesday night.
In front of a mammoth crowd at Mall of Asia Arena, Ginebra outscored defending champion San Miguel, 27-8, in the pivotal third quarter to seize control of the game and eventually cruise to victory.
This is Ginebra’s first title in the Commissioner’s Cup in 21 years. They beat Alaska in the 1997 edition of the conference — with the Aces coached by Tim Cone.
For San Miguel, this marks the end of its perfect run in PBA finals. The Beermen had triumphed in all six title series that they previously played in, but were dethroned by a Ginebra team that matched them talent for talent.
“They are still really good,” Cone said of San Miguel. “We won the championship, but I want to give credit to San Miguel.”
“We are still going to get better. The only difference between Ginebra and San Miguel is all of you,” he added, referring to the fans that packed the arena on a Wednesday night to see the Gin Kings close out the series. “We came back because of you. You pushed us, and here we are again, champions.”
Trailing 38-35 at the half, Ginebra stepped on the gas in the third, outscoring San Miguel 16-4 in the first six minutes to surge ahead, 51-42. Playing a starring role in the run were Scottie Thompson and Justin Brownlee, both of whom repeatedly outworked and outhustled the Beermen.
The Gin Kings’ defense limited San Miguel to just eight points in the third, as the Beermen did not score in the last 4:23 of the quarter. Ginebra carried a 62-46 lead to the payoff period and easily fended off all of San Miguel’s attempts at a comeback.
Ginebra led by as many as 22 points in the fourth, with the partisan crowd at MoA Arena growing louder as the final buzzer approached.
This was Ginebra’s 11th title in franchise history, and third under Cone’s leadership. They had previously won the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Governors’ Cup, both of which came with Brownlee as their import.
Brownlee was superb in the closeout game, scoring 31 points on top of 19 rebounds and seven assists. But the finals MVP award went to the much-loved Thompson, whose incredible efforts on the boards drew the biggest cheers from the crowd.
Thompson, the hero in Ginebra’s tight win in Game 5, had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists this time around; he averaged 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in the series.
This is the second straight season that Ginebra had denied San Miguel a Grand Slam. Last year, the Gin Kings ousted the Beermen in the quarterfinals of the Governors’ Cup. This time around, they dealt their sister team an even more painful blow by spoiling their perfect finals record and dethroning them.
Greg Slaughter had 13 points and nine rebounds, while LA Tenorio shrugged off early foul trouble to finish with 11 points. Jeff Chan, acquired in a mid-conference trade with Phoenix, scored 10 points off the bench.
Wasted in the loss was a 29-point, 15-rebound outing from June Mar Fajardo, who made 13 of his 17 field goals but struggled in defending Ginebra’s frontcourt. Renaldo Balkman had 24 points and 14 boards, but tapered off in the second half after a blazing start.
Brian Heruela was the only other San Miguel player in double-digits with 11 points; Marcio Lassiter went scoreless and missed all 12 of his attempts. Alex Cabagnot also struggled, going 3-of-15 from the field, and Arwind Santos made only 2 of 11 shots. Chris Ross also bricked all five of his field goals and was hampered by foul trouble in the first half.
Ginebra 93—Brownlee 31, Slaughter 13, Thompson 12, Tenorio 11, Chan 10, Mercado 6, Ferrer 5, Devance 4, J. Aguilar 1.
San Miguel 77—Fajardo 29, Balkman 24, Heruela 11, Cabagnot 6, Santos 5, Pessumal 2, Ross 0, Lassiter 0, Rosser 0, Vigil 0, Standhardinger 0.
Quarters: 14-17, 35-38, 62-46, 93-77.
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