MANILA (UPDATED) - LA Tenorio drilled the big shots in crunch time as Barangay Ginebra broke the hearts of Phoenix Super LPG in overtime, 125-121, on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
In front of a partisan crowd of over 3,000 at the Big Dome, the Gin Kings hiked their record in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup to 3-0, while handing the Fuel Masters a second consecutive defeat.
As he has done time and again for Ginebra, Tenorio came up with a big shot at the end of regulation as he drilled the three-pointer that knotted the count at 114. The Fuel Masters had one last chance to win the game in regulation with just over a second left, and off the inbound pass, Sean Manganti found Matthew Wright under the basket.
Wright could not get the shot off, however, and was forced to kick the ball out to rookie Nick Demusis whose three-pointer clanked off the rim as time expired.
The Fuel Masters drew first blood in overtime off a Chris Banchero layup, but the Gin Kings had better execution down the stretch.
After a layup by Aljun Melecio gave Phoenix a 119-117 lead with 2:15 left, Arvin Tolentino knocked down a huge three-pointer to push the Gin Kings in front, 120-119. Wright gave Phoenix its last lead, 121-120, off a floater with 1:15 to go, but a Justin Chua foul sent Christian Standhardinger to the line where he made both free throws for a 122-121 count.
Phoenix flubbed a chance to retake the lead when Melecio bricked a triple, and that set up Tenorio's dagger three-pointer with nine seconds to go off a Justin Brownlee feed.
"I think it's really good for our team, for our team confidence, that we can play tough down the stretch, and win tough games," Ginebra coach Tim Cone would say after the game.
"This game could have gone either way. It was super hard-fought. Again, we just feel fortunate that we came out on top. But I think in the long run, this is gonna help our team toughen up mentally, having to play games like this," he added.
The Fuel Masters had nine seconds left to try and make a comeback, but Ginebra's defense held firm and they only managed to get a shot off in the final second, with Chua misfiring on a three-pointer.
Standhardinger finished with 30 points, and nine rebounds, while Brownlee flirted with a triple-double after putting up 31 points, nine boards, and eight assists. Tenorio had 15 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, while Scottie Thompson had 17 points and seven boards off the bench.
Phoenix Super LPG import Paul Harris had 26 points, 21 of which came in the second half; he also had eight boards and six dimes. Wright finished with 20 points, eight assists, and six steals.
Jason Perkins battled foul trouble all night but still had 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting before fouling out with 2:31 to play in regulation.
It was a disappointing defeat for the Fuel Masters who wasted several chances to ice the game in regulation. They had led 112-107 with just 42 seconds to go after back-to-back buckets by rookies Melecio and Demusis, but were outscored 7-2 by Ginebra down the stretch.
"We got lucky they missed some free throws. They missed some free throws, they kept us in the game, gave us some life," said Cone.
Baskets by Brownlee and Tolentino made it a one-point game, 112-111, with 15 seconds left, but Melecio could only make one of two charities off a duty foul by Standhardinger to make it a two-point game with 11 seconds to go.
The Fuel Masters looked to have wrapped up the game when they forced Brownlee into a turnover in the next Ginebra possession, but Harris only made one of his two free throws, setting the stage for Tenorio's big-time three-pointer that forced overtime.
Melecio had 15 points, and Chris Banchero added 18 markers for the Fuel Masters who dropped to 2-2 in the conference.
The Gin Kings were playing without All-Star guard Stanley Pringle, as he is still dealing with a knee issue.
Barangay Ginebra 125 - Brownlee 31, Standhardinger 30, Tolentino 20, Thompson 17, Tenorio 15, J. Aguilar 9, Onwubere 3, Salado 0, Chan 0.
Phoenix 121 - Harris 26, Wright 20, Perkins 19, Banchero 18, Melecio 15, Muyang 6, Demusis 6, Chua 4, Manganti 3, Garcia 2, Camacho 2, Jazul 0.
Quarters: 32-23, 56-54, 80-83, 114-114, 125-121.