Gin Kings score big vs. Dragons, just a win away from PBA Commissioner’s Cup title

MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is just a win away after denying Bay Area Dragons’ late-game comeback, 101-91. Justin Brownlee topped all scorers with 37 points and 3-2 series lead on Sunday, January 8, 2023 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Gin Kings score big vs. Dragons
Justin Brownlee dropped 37 big points to help Ginebra past Dragons and broke the series deadlock 3-2. Photo Credit: PBA

If there’s something Ginebra needs to take advantage of, it should be attacking the rim while Dragons’ super import Andrew Nicholson is off court. That’s what exactly the Gin Kings did, blitzed in the middle for the early lead at the game five opener.

Both Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar, who used to start slow, were leading their team in points in the first quarter. In a rare occurrence, Ginebra led by double-digits with over six minutes remaining.

Not only did Brownlee punish Bay Area offensively, the reigning Best Import of the Conference also held a block party to keep the scoring gap as much as possible.

Hayden Blankley tried to fill in the shoes of Nicholson, had a solid first quarter to disrupt Ginebra’s rhythm and snatched the lead, 24-23 at the end of the first twelve minutes of the game.

Brownlee and Blankley went toe-to-toe in the second quarter who both had 15 markers at least midway to the halftime. But it was the Ginebra import who had the edge as the home squad found themselves ahead once again.

Ginebra, aside from an excellent offensive onslaught, showed the Dragons a championship-caliber defense and prevented the visitors from making a run before the half ended. The Gin Kings headed to the dugout with a 54-43 decent advantage.

Aguilar, who has been suffering from gut illness all throughout the series, had been Ginebra’s energy guy in the third. The 6’9” human pogo stick tried to intimidate his counterparts underneath the basket and had been instrumental in preserving his team’s lead.

Kobey Lam, who was Bay Area’s hero in the previous game, struggled to make points in this game. The spitfire dragon was limited to just a single digit in three quarters.

Brownlee played a terrific game five, the marsman already had 30 markers with one more period to go. Aside from the GLeague veteran, the locals stepped up too such as Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle.

Blankley had been doing the offensive chores all by himself but the Dragons lacked the support from the local teammates that kept them behind by 14, 76-62 entering the final chapter.

Aside from Nicholson, Bay Area also missed the services of its flashy guard Glen Yang who is also nursing a foot injury which he sustained the previous game.

The Dragons tried to make a comeback using their ever reliable three point shooting skills. The visiting team managed to bring down Ginebra’s almost 20-point lead to just a dozen with plenty of time left in the fourth.

Lam finally woke up from a long scoring hibernation and started to drain baskets from all angles of the floor to further bring Ginebra’s lead down.

Just as the Dragons attempted to make a probable comeback, Pringle denied them by raining multiple triples and helped Barangay seal pivotal game five, 101-91 and put Bay Area on the brink of elimination.

Barangay Ginebra can finish off the series on Wednesday, January 11, 2022.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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