PBA: Ginebra bounces back against TNT, lives another day

MANILA, Philippines - It was all or nothing for Barangay Ginebra as they had to play game number 3 in a do-or-die manner. It isn’t that easy to be downed by 0-2 if you’ll ask Coach Tim Cone. But as the eternal battle cry of the most famous team in the archipelago says: “Never say die.” The Barangay will keep on fighting until the final horn sounds.

Justin Brownlee helped Ginebra survived game number 3
Justin Brownlee helped Ginebra survived game number 3 to live another day. Photo Credit: Inquirer.net
As for Coach Cone, the only strategy that can beat TNT Katropa is to run and gun. TNT might be a force to be reckoned with under the rim or the inside due to the massive presence of Joshua Smith who has been single-handedly killing Ginebra in the first 2 games but they are slower whenever Smith is on the floor.

Ginebra kept on pushing the ball and draining baskets as early as the opening tipoff of the game courtesy of Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar who ended the first quarter with 10 and 11 points respectively and their team led TNT 34-28.

TNT Katropa bounced back at the start of the second with Kris Rosales’ long triples and Jayson Castro’s slashes. Katropa all of a sudden cut the lead to 1. The guards of Ginebra on the other hand, stuck in the game plan to just run and go for the basket off the transition. With this, Barangay was able to even widen their margin to 10, 43-33 and with 7:25 remaining in the 2nd period.

Believe it or not, Ginebra made a 19-0 run and totally left TNT behind. Guess who was Ginebra players’ inspiration for this game? None other than the legend himself, Mr. Sonny Jaworski. Previously, it was Bal David who visited the Barangay but they fell short in the hands of the underrated Anthony Semerad during the dying seconds of game number 2 despite “The Flash’s” presence.

The Katropa then realized that it was not Big J at all who was their kryptonite but the “shoe” of Joshua Smith. Smith felt something wrong with his right shoe that slowed him down and forced himself to sit on the bench. While Smith was out, Ginebra surged and built the huge advantage.

Joshua Smith didn’t go back in until the end of the first half as he was looking for a new pair of shoes to wear and play again. The only problem was, the coaching staff found it difficult to find an extra size 18 pair of basketball shoes. Luckily, TNT somehow caught-up and managed to chop the lead to 14, 61-47 at the end of the first half.

“Take out the king and the entire kingdom will go down.” This was the story of game 3. Mid of the third quarter and there was still no sign of Joshua Smith. By this time, Ginebra’s margin was more than 20 and majority of the points came from the inside where the defense was weak.

Moala Tautuua can’t contain the middle all by himself. Both Joe Devance and Justin Brownlee just slayed the stone-bodied Tautuaa in the shaded lane to pile up their points and maintain their humongous lead that ballooned to 23 with 2:23 left in the third.
Ginebra closed the penultimate quarter with a bang: a whooping 96-74 advantage over TNT Katropa.

Coach Nash Racela waived the white flag too early in this game, at the start of the 4th quarter when he fielded in his reserve center, Frank Golla and even rested his combo-guards Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy.

Coach Tim Cone who was assured of this game opted to pull out his starters and sent his 3rd unit in. Now seldom-used Mark Caguioa and JayJay Helterbrand led the attack and preserved their 2-dozen-point lead until the final buzzer echoed in the entire coliseum.

Despite the win, Ginebra is still in a do-or-die situation due to single game advantage, 2-1 by TNT Katropa. Both squads will play game number 4 on Saturday where TNT aims to finish Ginebra off while Barangay will try to stay alive and level the series.


GINEBRA 125 - Brownlee 31, Thompson 17, Aguilar 15, Mercado 12, Devance 10, Ellis 9, Cruz 9, Tenorio 8, Ferrer 5, Mariano 5, Taha 2, Jamito 2, Helterbrand 0, Caguioa 0

TNT 101 - Garcia 16, Tautuaa 15, Carey 11, Reyes 9, Rosario 8, Castro 7, Rosales 7, Hernandez 6, Nuyles 6, Smith 4, Pogoy 4, Semerad 3, De Ocampo 3, Golla 0, Tamsi 0

Quarter Scores: 34-28, 61-47, 96-74, 125-101

-- Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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