Brgy. Ginebra 103 – Alaska 102
In a stretch in the Commissioner’s Cup where Gilas Pilipinas players are loaned out for the national cause and mother teams expect others to step up, Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee reminded us all that he was a big component in his team’s recent title run. He also showed off why the franchise chose to bring him back for another run.
Brownlee completed a three-point play with 7.2 seconds left to punctuate his best performance of the Commissioner’s Cup yet and give the Barangay the victory over the Aces, to raise their winning streak to five wins. Ginebra rose to 5-1 overall, good for third place in the team standings, while Alaska slid to 4-3, finding themselves in the middle of the pack.
Brownlee finished with 37 points (13-of-25 shooting), a conference high, plus 14 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and four blocks, in an otherworldly display of his transcendent talent, and sheer ability to dominate and impact the game. He was chiefly responsible for Ginebra establishing a double-digit cushion in the third quarter as he poured in 16 of the Kings’ 30 points in that period.
Ginebra led by as much as 13, but the Aces themselves persisted, even without Calvin Abueva and Carl Bryan Cruz. Dondon Hontiveros’ hot hands and Simon Enciso getting involved in the second half was enough for Alaska to rally back. A jumper by Enciso, followed by five straight from import Cory Jefferson pushed Alaska ahead, 101-95 with 3:08 left.
Ginebra replied right away, with Joe Devance’s lay-up and Kevin Ferrer’s triple making it only a one-point game. Both sides had their share of misses on the next few possessions. The returning Chris Banchero scored a split from the line, under the final 20 seconds, before Brownlee took over with a strong drive to the basket. JVee Casio failed to score on the last possession on an open look from deep, allowing Ginebra to escape.
Four others supported Brownlee, scoring double-digits. Joe Devance had 12, Scottie Thompson contributed 11 to go with 11 rebounds and six assists, while LA Tenorio tallied 11 markers.
Jefferson led Alaska with 25 points and 15 boards, but only Vic Manuel finished in twin-digits with 13 points.
Ginebra re-signing Brownlee was predicated on the belief that he, Devance, Japeth Aguilar as Tim Cone’s main bigs, would be enough, even in a conference with bigger and stronger imports.
The Kings played this contest without Aguilar (8.6 RPG, 3.6 BPG in the Commissioner’s Cup), but still managed to out-rebound the Aces, 46-42, out-score them in the paint, 54-42, and out-hustle them with a 16-9 lead in second chance points.
The incredible ability of Brownlee to engage against the giants of the PBA, do great things on offense with his seemingly boundless repertoire, and control the defensive end with his presence has more than made up for the slight disadvantage in size. Combined with familiar players, whom he has already led to a championship in the past, means that Ginebra can be in for another deep postseason run.
And mind you, Brownlee is just 29-years-old. If the future goes his way, he could possibly be one of the best imports we have seen in a long time. He has broken the mold, and the Kings are in a good position to succeed because of that.