PBA: Ginebra pulls away in OT, takes Game 1 in thriller

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2020 08:54 PM | Updated as of Nov 29 2020 09:34 PM

Stanley Pringle of Barangay Ginebra attempts a floater against TNT Tropang Giga in Game 1 of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Finals. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA - (UPDATED) Barangay Ginebra drew first blood in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, seizing a 100-94 overtime victory in Game 1 after a thrilling, back-and-forth battle with TNT Tropang Giga. 

Forty eight minutes were not enough to decide Sunday's Game 1 at the AUF Gym in Angeles City, but in the end it was Ginebra that had more energy in the extension, giving them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. 

Japeth Aguilar made 11 of 14 field goals to finish with 25 points on top of 16 rebounds, while Stanley Pringle had 24 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.

But it was LA Tenorio who took charge down the stretch, assisting on the game-tying bucket by Arvin Tolentino as well as crucial baskets by Aljon Mariano and Aguilar in overtime. The veteran point guard finished with 12 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds.

"In LA we trust," Ginebra coach Tim Cone quipped afterwards. "He's been with us for so long, and he's used to that kind of situation when he has the ball in his hands." 

It was a thrilling game that featured 15 ties and 21 lead changes -- and it came some 48 hours after both TNT and Ginebra had wrapped up their respective semifinals series. For Cone and Ginebra, it was another down-the-wire contest, as they escaped Meralco in the semis on the strength of Scottie Thompson's game-winning three-pointer in Game 5.

"If we're gonna have six more of these games, I don't think my heart's gonna take it," Cone said. "That was an incredible back-and-forth." 

TNT appeared headed for a win in regulation after Jayson Castro gave them a one-point lead, 91-90, with 36.6 seconds left. Their defense forced Pringle into a turnover in the next possession, and TNT secured the ball with under 18 seconds to go. But they blew a chance to take a three-point lead when Ray Parks made just one of two charities for a 92-90 count with 12.2 seconds left.

His missed free throw proved costly. Arvin Tolentino converted a layup off a pass by Tenorio with five seconds left, knotting the count at 92. TNT still had a chance to win, but Castro's floater hit back iron as time expired. 

A floater by Pringle and an Aguilar layup gave Ginebra a four-point cushion in overtime, and the Tropang Giga were never able to get untracked. Their lone field goal came off a Roger Pogoy layup with a minute and 20 seconds left that made it a two-point game, 96-94, but Ginebra immediately responded through Aljon Mariano, who converted yet another Tenorio assist.

A slam dunk by Aguilar -- again coming off a Tenorio dime -- with 20 seconds to go pegged the final score. Ginebra limited TNT to just two points in the overtime period to snatch the win.

Thompson, the hero of their Game 5 win against Ginebra, had 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Tolentino finished with 14 points. 

"We had a lot of contributions, and that's the way it's gotta be to beat Talk 'N Text," Cone said. 

Parks, who led the league in statistical points after the semifinals, had 20 points on 7-of-19 shooting and was visibly limping at times during the game. He was seen having his left calf worked on at the sidelines; he also fouled out with 31 seconds left in the overtime period.

Roger Pogy added 19 points, Castro had 12 points and five assists, while Poy Erram finished with 10 points and 10 boards. Jay Washington was again solid for TNT, scoring 14 points including back-to-back three-pointers in the final quarter to keep them in the game when it appeared that Ginebra was ready to pull away.

Game 2 of the series is on Wednesday, still at the AUF Gym. 

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The scores:

GINEBRA 100 -- Aguilar 25, Pringle 24, Thompson 15, Tolentino 14, Tenorio 12, Mariano 6, Chan 2, Devance 2, Dillinger 0, Caperal 0.

TNT 94 -- Parks 20, Pogoy 19, Washington 14, Castro 12, Erram 10, Enciso 9, Rosario 8, Semerad 2, Reyes 0, Montalbo 0. 

Quarter-scores: 22-27, 41-41, 66-71, 92-92, 100-94.