Ginebra Erased an 18-point Lead as Glen Rice Jr. got Ejected
The absence of Glen Rice Jr. was too much for TNT as Justin Brownlee scored 46 points. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Okay, folks. If you have seen how heated Game 3 was, how it was filled with fouls, including numerous technical fouls, how close the score was at the end of that tension-filled Game 3, then you can expect more of the same in Game 4 when the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings will gun for a return to the PBA Governors' Cup Finals while they will be facing off against the Meralco Bolts, a team they've beaten in last year's Finals.
On the other hand, Coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Talk N Text KaTropa will need all hands in to win this game and force a sudden death match on Tuesday. For that to happen, the KaTropa will need more than just another monstrous performance from their import, Glen Rice. Jr.
As Glen Rice Jr. walked out of the court and later, of the venue, the chances of a Ginebra victory increased remarkably. However, the Talk N Text KaTropa were able to hold on their own, for a short period of time as the Gin Kings stunned the KaTropa when the crowd favourites left nothing to chance after erasing an 18-point hole in the third quarter to win Game 4, at 115-105 to book their much-awaited Finals rematch with the Mealco Bolts.
Coming off their close encounter back in Game 3 of their best-of-5 semifinal series which ended in a 106-103 victory by the defending champions, both teams started off scoring against each other as the KaTropa built a 5-point lead 4 minutes into the game as Jayson Castro scored 7 points during that span. Then, Glen Rice Jr. made it 27-17 after draining jump shot just a few steps away from the 3-point line as Ryan Reyes and Moala Tautuaa joined forces to score TNT's next 5 points to make it 32-17 which was followed by a timeout from Tim Cone.
However, just when TNT was already leading, Glen Rice Jr. was ejected after pushing down Kevin Ferrer AND, throwing the ball which almost hit Ferrer in the face. Despite that, TNT was able to end the first quarter with the lead, at 43-32.
Knowing that the KaTropa were already without their high-scoring import, Ginebra slowly trimmed the deficit to 43-38 during the first 3 minutes of the second quarter. From that point on, turnovers plagued the offense of both teams as Ginebra was able to furthermore to push down the lead to 5 points but TNT was able to score thanks to the aggressiveness of Jayson Castro who completed a 3-point to play to make it 52-44 with under 7 minutes to play before halftime. Then, Tautuaa added a one-handed dunk to bring the lead up to double-digit. Roger Pogoy then drained a long-distance bomb to give the KaTropa, a 15-point advantage in the closing minutes of the first half as both teams headed into the break with TNT leading at 66 -52.
Troy Rosario top-scored TNT with 18 points in the first half while Jayson Castro added 14 points and 6 assists to lessen the effects of Glen Rice Jr.'s absence who had 2 points before getting thrown out. While both teams were shooting above 50% in the field, points scored off fastbreak opportunities propelled TNT into the lead during the first half as the KaTropa outscored Ginebra13-2 in fastbreak points. And, despite the absence of their import, TNT rebounders were able to outmuscle their Ginebra counterparts, holding a 22-15 rebounding edge.
Justin Brownlee had 18 points to lead the Gin Kings as LA Tenorio added 14 markers in the first half. One of the reasons why Ginebra failed to pound on the absence of Glen Rice Jr. was the fact that Ginebra's offense was mired with 13 turnovers in the first half which the KaTropa converted to 16 points.
Right after Justin Brownlee dunked the ball during the first two minutes of the second half, Jayson Castro drained two charities to give TNT an 18-point advantage. However, LA Tenorio made a 3-point shot and Brownlee added two free throws to make it 72-59 with 8:33 to go as Nash Racela called a timeout to stop the bleeding. Then, Justin Brownlee went on personal 11-0 scoring blast to bring the lead down to 74-69 with under 7 minutes to play in the quarter.
With Ginebra threatening to inch closer, Jayson Castro and Moala Tautua scored the 4 straight points to put TNT's lead to 9, at 80-71 with under 4 minutes to go. TNT's lead never went back to double digits during the remaining minutes of the 3rd quarter as both squads went into the final quarter with the KaTropa only leading by 6 points, at 86-80.
Kelly Williams opened the 4th quarter for TNT with an alley-oop dunk but Sol Mercado made another trey for Ginebra to bring the Gin Kings with 3 points, at 88-85. Then, the score was finally tied at 90 apiece after Justin Brownlee calmly drained two charities with under 10 minutes left in the game to force a puzzled Nash Racela to talk things out with his players because their 18-point lead had already evaporated. Mark Caguioa gave the Gin Kings the lead, at 92-90 after scoring on an inside shot only for Castro to add 2 free throws to tie the game anew, at 92 all. Justin Brownlee continued his scoring onslaught as he drained another one from outside and LA Tenorio scored on another inside basket to give the Gin Kings a 99-94 lead.
Exactly like they did back in the 3rd quarter, TNT struggled to make shots as they missed tons of open shots as LA Tenorio added trey to give Ginebra, a 10-point advantage with under 5 minutes left. Roger Pogoy finally broke the silence for TNT after scoring on the inside but the entire KaTropa team continued with their slump which was made worse by the ejection of Glen Rice Jr.
Justin Brownlee scored 46 BIG points to lead the Gin Kings. Former Ateneo Blue Eagles LA Tenorio and Greg Slaughter added 25 and 21 respectively while Sol Mercado added 11 points off the bench. As a team, the Gin Kings were able to make 13 out of their 32 attempts from deep while blocking 9 shots.
Without their high-scoring import, the rest of the KaTropa struggled all game long as they were lead by Troy Rosario with his 28 points to go along with his 10 rebounds. Jayson Castro had 26 points, 8 boards, and 9 dimes. The bad side of that impressive stat line was that Castro only made 9 of his 20 attempts.
Ginebra - 115
Brownlee 46, Tenorio 25, Slaughter 21, Mercado 11, J. Aguilar 6, Ferrer 4, Caguioa 2, Thompson 0, Devance 0, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, Cruiz 0, Mariano 0, R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
TNT - 105
Rosario 28, Castro 26, Pogoy 14, Semerad 12, Williams 10, Tautuaa 9, Reyes 4, Rice Jr. 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Hernandez 0, Lingganay 0, Seigle 0, Chua 0
32-41, 52-66, 80-86, 115-105