MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) For the second consecutive game, Barangay Ginebra broke the hearts of TNT Tropang Giga.
The Gin Kings recovered from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter to snatch a 92-90 triumph in Game 2, Wednesday at the AUF Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga. The slim victory gave them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Finals series.
It was a come-from-behind win for the Gin Kings who had to weather an inspired outing from TNT's Roger Pogoy. The Tropang Giga led for the bulk of the game, going up by as much as 15 points despite missing the services of their leading scorer, Ray Parks Jr.
But Ginebra proved to be the better team down the stretch, with Aljon Mariano and Stanley Pringle getting their comeback started before Scottie Thompson and LA Tenorio finished off the job.
"It was certainly a struggle for us all game long," admitted Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone. "I thought TNT dominated us for more than three quarters of the game."
"(But) we just started hitting shots, and we were able to make some stops, and the game turned around," he added.
Stanley Pringle led the way for the Gin Kings with 34 points, making 10 of his 21 field goals while adding eight assists and six rebounds. Aljon Mariano was the only other Ginebra player in double-digits, with 20 points and nine boards.
Thompson and Tenorio struggled for most of the game, but came up big when it mattered most. Thompson drained the go-ahead three-pointer with 30.5 seconds left for his lone field goal of the contest, and Tenorio five free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
"The game was separated by a couple of big time shots," said Cone. "We made them and they didn't tonight."
Even without Parks, the Tropang Giga appeared headed for a comfortable victory, leading 54-39 off a Pogoy triple with over eight minutes to go in the third quarter. It was the veteran tandem of Jared Dillinger and Jeff Chan that sparked the Gin Kings' comeback in the period, and they entered the final frame down by just one possession, 70-68.
But the Tropang Giga still remained in control. They were 84-77 with under five minutes to go thanks to yet another three-pointer by Pogoy, who wound up matching the second-best scoring mark of his career with 38 points.
Two free throws by Mariano and a Pringle three-pointer made it a two-point game, 84-82, with just under three minutes left, and Ginebra's defense forced TNT into a 24-second violation in their next trip down. Pringle then drew a foul on TNT's Poy Erram and cashed in on two charities to knot the game at 84.
A split at the line by Jayson Castro with 53 seconds left gave TNT a one-point edge, but the Tropang Giga broke down on defense in the next possession, leaving Thompson wide-open in the corner for the triple. Like he did in Game 5 of their semis series against Meralco, Thompson coolly drained the go-ahead shot, putting the Gin Kings in control of the contest, 87-85.
Off a timeout, Castro missed a three-pointer, but Ginebra left the door open when Tenorio made just one of two free throws.
Unfortunately for TNT, Pogoy bricked his own attempt to tie the game with 14 seconds to go, and the Tropang Giga had no choice but to send Tenorio to the line for the free throws that sealed the victory.
Castro had 13 points and six assists, while Simon Enciso finished with 15 points. Erram had 11 points and 1 boards, while Troy Rosario also had 11 markers.
Once again, however, TNT lacked the finishing kick against the Gin Kings, and their inability to close out games has resulted in a 0-2 hole in the All-Filipino Finals.