MANILA (UPDATED) - Seven players scored in double-digits as the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings defeated the NLEX Road Warriors, 102-92, to open their campaign in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym.
Without their fans to cheer them on, the Gin Kings still started their All-Filipino journey on the right foot, fending off repeated rallies by the Road Warriors.
Aljon Mariano led the way for Ginebra as he tied his career-best with 20 points, while Jared Dillinger (12), Scottie Thompson (12), Stanley Pringle (12), Prince Caperal (11), Jeff Chan (11) and Joe Devance (11) all reached double figures.
"We had some guys that really stepped up," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. "Guys like Aljon and JD (Dillinger) stepped up, Prince stepped up for us. We got a really good fourth quarter from Scottie Thompson."
"We played a lot better than I thought we would, but I still hope we can play a lot better than we did tonight," he added.
Even with Kiefer Ravena held in check, the Road Warriors managed to tie the game at 48 heading into the halftime break, thanks in large part to JR Quinahan who had his way against the post defense of Ginebra.
But the veteran forward was ejected from the game late in the third quarter after incurring a technical foul, as he had already been called for a flagrant foul penalty 1 in the first half. At the time of his exit, Quinahan already had a career-high 26 points, but NLEX trailed 80-68.
A flurry of points from Jericho Cruz allowed the Road Warriors to get within eight points, 83-75, heading into the final quarter. They got within three points with over nine minutes left off an Anthony Semerad triple that prompted a timeout from Cone.
It turned out to be NLEX's last stand as Ginebra answered with nine straight points to restore a double-digit lead, 95-82, with under five minutes left. The Road Warriors got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"I'm thankful for this win, because it gets us off on the right foot, and we can move forward," said Cone.
Ginebra's talismanic point guard LA Tenorio extended his Iron Man streak to 642 games as he played nearly 12 minutes, but Cone admitted that he was still limited after undergoing an appendectomy just two weeks ago. Japeth Aguilar, a late arrival to the PBA's bubble in Clark, also played and scored seven points in 22 minutes.
Kevin Alas, seeing action for the first time after recovering from a second ACL injury, had 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
But Ravena, now wearing No. 24 in honor of his idol Kobe Bryant, scored just six points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.
Barangay Ginebra 102 - Mariano 20, Pringle 12, Thompson 12, Caperal 11, Chan 11, Devance 11, Aguilar 7, Tolentino 5, Tenorio 1, R. Aguilar 0, Balanza 0
NLEX 92 - Quinahan 26, Alas 16, Cruz 11, Porter 9, Soyud 7, Ravena 6, Semerad 5, Miranda 4, Ighalo 3, Galanza 3, Ayonayon 2, Paniamogan 0
Quarters: 31-22, 48-48, 83-75, 102-92.