Barangay Ginebra is now on the verge of ending a 13-year drought in the PBA All-Filipino tourney.
The Gin Kings bounced back strong from their 21-point blowout loss the last time out and closed in on the bubble crown with a 98-88 trouncing of the TNT Tropang Giga Sunday at the AUF Sports Center Powered by Smart 5G.
Recalibrating after their 67-88 Game Three loss, the Kings dished out what their coach felt as their best game in the entire bubble play and went on to take the commanding 3-1 series lead.
They go for the clincher in Game Five tomorrow. Game Six, if necessary, is on Friday.
The Kings dominated from inside and out, with Japeth Aguilar running a dunk show and the Ginebra gunners raining down treys to highlight their progress, foiling TNT’s bid for an equalizer.
Coming back from a brief respite in the fourth, LA Tenorio pumped in big shot after big shot to close out their awesome Game Four job.
“He (Tenorio) was really calm under pressure. RR Pogoy was making incredible shots and they’re getting pumped up. It’s hard to respond but that’s what LA did,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said.
Tenorio stopped the Tropang Giga on their tracks with back-to-back triples described by the Ginebra mentor as “cold blooded”.
From as many as 18 points down, TNT, anchored by Pogoy who finished with a game-high 34, rallied to within three, but Tenorio came out to quash an uprising.
The Ginebra chief playmaker fired four three-pointers in all and finished with a total of 22 points that went with six assists, three steals and two rebounds.
Aguilar also piled up 22 markers, including a number of powerful jams, while Stanley Pringle and Scottie Thompson contributed 16 and 11, respectively.
Thompson had a near triple double as he also came through with 11 rebounds and nine assists.
In what’s really their best game in the series, the Kings led for the most part and had little trouble dispatching a TNT side stymied by the continued sidelining of Bobby Ray Parks and the possible addition of Jayson Castro to their casualties.
Castro was helped to their bench in the third quarter never to return.
‘POGOY A THORN’
Although hobbled by injury to key players, TnT Tropang Giga remains a dangerous team to deal with.
Pogoy has got a lot to do with it and certainly will be a big concern for Barangay Ginebra if it is going to finally end the PBA Philippine Cup Finals tomorrow.
Tenorio singled out Pogoy as the difference maker for TnT after anchoring a big fourth quarter rally in Game 4 that just fell short in the end, allowing the Kings to take a 98-88 win.
Although now up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Kings couldn’t take things easy with Pogoy around, Tenorio said.
“We have to do something about him. Grabe ang nilalaro niya,” said Tenorio of the 28-year-old TnT gunner. “He’s playing on above level. So we have to see that also.”
The Kings are looking to close out the series against a TnT side hit by injuries to starters Parks and Castro.
Parks has been out of the series since Game 2 due to a strained left calf, while Castro aggravated his knee injury owing to bone spurs during the early of the third quarter in Game 4.
In their absence, Pogoy raised the ante of his game a notch higher and torched the Kings for 16 points in the fourth quarter in their last game where he engaged Tenorio in a shootout down the stretch.
He ended up with a game-high 34 points spiked by four from beyond the arc.
The effort earned Pogoy so much respect from the 36-year-old Tenorio.
Tenorio expects more of that kind from Pogoy, who is averaging 27.2 points in the series, that the Kings shouldn’t feel too confident about having the championship already in the bag. “We can’t afford to be complacent especially going to the next game,” the Ginebra guard said. “I’m sure they’re going to find a way to win the next few games. And we have to ready for that.”*PBA.PH