Brownlee, Thompson power Barangay Ginebra to victory in latest Manila Clasico

2017 PBA Commissioners Cup Ginebra-Star pic 11 by Roy Afable

GIN 113 – SH 98

Early in the second quarter of the Manila Clasico, 2017 Commissioner Cup edition, Ginebra import Justin Brownlee was able to fake Star’s import, Tony Mitchell and bait him into a foul. Mitchell wasn’t happy with the call. Mitchell stared down Brownlee as he walked to the free throw line to take the shots. After the first free throw missed, Mitchell took this opportunity to walk into the lane and say some words to Brownlee. Unfazed, Brownlee calmly sank the second.

That was just one of the numerous instances in the first half of their game where Mitchell tried to intimidate Brownlee.

At that point, Mitchell had every right to talk. The Hotshots were undefeated and he was a big part of their four wins. The former Detroit Piston was a dominating force on both ends of the floor. He’s been a highlight machine that does things emphatically on both ends of the floor. He doesn’t hesitate to show how unstoppable he can be, with his actions and his words.

In his first Manila Clasico, Mitchell was even more fired up.

There were more stare-downs to his dunks. He was rising up trying to swat every Ginebra shot out of the air. In the second quarter, when he tried to go for a coast-to-coast, one-handed throwdown and was fouled by Japeth Aguilar, he had a huge, taunting smile on his face as he walked to take his free throws.

Just like in their first four games, Mitchell’s imposing play combined with a balanced attack by the locals was a huge reason Star was able to build a double-digit lead over Ginebra in the third quarter. Mitchell teamed up with Paul Lee early in the second half in a 12-2 run to give Star a 12-point lead, 67-55.

It looked like another signature Star win.

But Brownlee and the rest of Barangay Ginebra remained unfazed through the torrent of buckets, trashtalk and intimidation. They turned on the jets late in the third to not only get back into the game but overtake Star.

It started off with their defense. They tightened their defense like a vise, forcing the Hotshots into tough, challenged shots. This turned into rebounds, which turned into quick outlets for their playmakers.

2017 PBA Commissioners Cup Ginebra-Star pic 9 by Roy Afable

Scottie Thompson was the engine in Ginebra’s comeback. He was responsible for eight points in the team’s 16-2 run. His ability to create and finish in traffic was highlighted as Ginebra went old school, showtime, run and gun to get back in the game. Thompson was hitting layups over two defenders and was whipping behind-the-back and wrap-around passes to open teammates. After being down 12, Ginebra was up by seven when the third quarter ended.

The fourth quarter was icing on the cake. Star got to within two points early in the final period but Sol Mercado unleashed a personal 8-0 run to give Ginebra a double-digit lead.

2017 PBA Commissioners Cup Ginebra-Star pic 13 by Roy Afable

Star never got the chance to unleash that one final run to come back in the game as Brownlee shut the door on them. Ginebra’s import was on fire late in the game. He hit back-to-back midrange jumpers over Tony Mitchell to restore their double-digit lead.

In the final minutes of the game, Brownlee was isolated on the right block, in a similar situation as in the second quarter. Brownlee drove at Mitchell, stepped back and fired a jump shot. No fakes. No foul baiting. Nothing but the bottom of the basket for Brownlee.

Mitchell had nothing more to say to Brownlee.