PBA Finals: Ginebra dismantles San Miguel, now just a win away from title

MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra made 2 wins in-a-row to gain a 3-2 series advantage after dismantling San Miguel, 87-83 in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Sunday, August 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Scottie Thompson saved Ginebra with his crucial baskets
Scottie Thompson saved Ginebra with his crucial baskets and help his team gain the 3-2 series lead | Credit: pba.ph

Prior to the opening tip off, Coach Leo Austria revealed that he has already seen a relevant pattern in this series. Austria said that whoever wins the 1st quarter, definitely wins the entire game.

Renaldo Balkman put the blame on himself after a humiliating lost last Friday where he only scored 14 points. But in this game, he came well-prepared and determined to atone his subpar performance previously as he had already matched his total game 4 output with few minutes remaining in the first.

If Coach Austria’s observations is true, then Ginebra would be in deep trouble as San Miguel had the headstart, 26-24 after the first 12 minutes of the ballgame.

Coach Tim Cone had put different players on Renaldo Balkman to contain the NBA veteran but the power forward was extremely unstoppable and helped SMB to escalate the lead into double-figure for the first time as the 2nd quarter started.

If Renaldo Balkman was San Miguel’s main factor in its offensive assault, his counterpart, Justin Brownlee was Ginebra’s missing link with only 7 points before the halftime break.

The Gin Kings made a 14-4 run to tie the game at 40 as they headed to the dugout to prepare for the next 24 minutes of game 5.

Chris Ross did a great job in guarding Justin Brownlee in the 1st half but Brownlee got more aggressive in the 3rd period to regain the lead.

Renaldo Balkman was too close in hitting a 30-point game but was slowed down by Joe Devance in the third. June Mar Fajardo stepped up to keep the score tight and was victorious in holding his ground against his rival, Greg Slaughter.

Both squads traded basket-after-basket in the entire penultimate quarter that resulted to another deadlock, 66-all.

Japeth Aguilar was too quiet in the previous games. Tonight, the high-leaping forward played his best game of the series and gave Greg Slaughter an ample time to rest and nurse his 4 personal fouls.

For the first time in the series, the game won’t end in a blowout as the score had been close and registered multiple lead changes.

The Beermen had the slight advantage as they played the final canto. June Mar Fajardo who just joined the 5,000-point club became Renaldo Balkman’s offensive aid and recovered significant boards in this final quarter.

At the 2-minute warning, San Miguel possessed a slim 3-point lead but got cut to just a half-shot after Scottie Thompson sank his foul shots.

Thompson had probably played the biggest game of his career. The flashy guard made 2 crucial baskets to give Ginebra the lead and seal this game for the 3-2 series advantage.

Barangay Ginebra finished the game 5 thriller with an 87-83 fair and square win over San Miguel and can wrap up the series on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:

Ginebra (87): Thompson 20, Brownlee 18, Tenorio 15, Slaughter 13, Devance 8, Aguilar 8, Chan 15, Mercado 0, Cruz 0, Ferrer 0

San Miguel (83): Balkman 34, Fajardo 23, Lassiter 13, Cabagnot 5, Ross 3, Standhardinger 3, Santos 2, Nabong 0

Quarter scores: 24-26, 40-40, 66-66, 87-83

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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