MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Japeth Aguilar hit the big shots in the end game to power Barangay Ginebra past a gutsy NorthPort squad, 104-98, and stay unbeaten in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The defending champion Gin Kings are now 3-0 in the conference, while dropping the Batang Pier to 0-4.
“Japeth hit some key shots down the stretch that got us over the hump,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said after the game. “But it could have gone either way.”
Leading 57-41 at the half, the Gin Kings surrendered 32 points in the third quarter to allow NorthPort to get back into the contest. Stanley Pringle alone had 19 points, as he simply overwhelmed every defender thrown at him by Ginebra.
The Batang Pier trailed by just six points, 79-73, heading into the payoff period, and they would make it a one-point game with 6:55 left to play when Mo Tautuaa threw down a dunk for a 90-89 count.
The Gin Kings responded with an 8-2 run to make it a more comfortable 98-91 spread with 2:42 to go, but Pringle came right back at them with six straight points, including a difficult lay-up against two defenders to make it a one-possession game, 98-95, with still 1:40 to play.
Aguilar proved too much to contain for NorthPort, however. The athletic forward tipped in a missed jumper from LA Tenorio, then after Pringle scored on the other end, knocked down back-to-back jumpers to fend off Batang Pier’s uprising.
The veteran finished with 23 points, making 11-of-16 shots, on top of nine rebounds. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone.
“We were in survival mode,” Cone said after their win. “We’re trying to see if we can survive games at this point. We need to be a lot better than how we’re playing.”
Justin Brownlee accounted for 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists for Ginebra, though he also committed 6 turnovers. Greg Slaughter finished with 18 points and 9 boards, but endured a scary fall with 5:49 to play and sat out the rest of the game.
Scottie Thompson, meanwhile, had 14 rebounds and six assists. Tenorio also scored 18.
The loss wasted a superb game from Pringle, who was playing in his first game back since his stint with the national team in the Asian Games. The guard fired 34 points on top of 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Import Rashad Woods had 28 points, 11 boards, and 6 dimes, but committed a brutal turnover with 45 seconds left that curtailed NorthPort’s momentum.
Sean Anthony, in his first game back from a calf injury, had 9 points and 5 assists.
Ginebra 104 - Brownlee 27, Aguilar J 23, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 18, Ferrer 6, Mariano 4, Thompson 4, Chan 2, Caguioa 2.
NorthPort 98 - Pringle 34, Woods 28, Tautuaa 11, Anthony 9, Taha 6, Fortuna 5, Guinto 3, Grey 2, Arana 0, Espinas 0, Gabayni 0.
Quarters: 33-15, 57-41, 79-73, 104-98.
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