The Gin Kings were never truly threatened throughout the game
Joe Devance co-led the balanced offense of Ginebra. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
For the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, slamming down the hopes of the San Miguel Beermen for a Grand Slam during their one-time quarterfinal date is nothing compared to having to face a dangerous team like the Talk N Text KaTropa in a best-of-5 series.
Against the Beermen, they had a twice-to-beat advantage. Here in the semifinals, they start at 0. No advantages. No bonuses. If they win 3 games against TNT, then their hopes of winning back-to-back Governors' Cup titles will be very much alive. As for the TNT KaTropa, their road towards getting back to the Finals begins here in Game 1, against the defending champions, a team they defeated early on in their last playing date for the elimination round.
The Ginebra Gin Kings went on multiple scoring runs, defended well and did not rely heavily on their import as the defending champions did everything right for most parts as they prevailed victorious in Game 1 after frustrating the Talk N Text KaTropa, 121-94.
Both teams started off running on offense as the Gin Kings began with a 4-0 spurt and then Jayson Castro scored the TNT's first 5 points of the night. After a series of mixed made and missed shots by both squads which kept the score close for most parts, a three-point shot by Glen Rice Jr. enabled Talk N Text to take the lead for the first time, at 17-15. In the next possession, Japeth Aguilar was fouled, drained both charities to tie the score at 17 all as both teams endured another scoring slump as they were clanking most of their shots, not allowing any significant scoring run. The lead went up to 5 after a dunk by Justin Brownlee, 24-19 with 2:13 to play and was followed by a basket and a free throw from Greg Slaughter to put Ginebra by up 8. The defense of Ginebra forced TNT players to commit silly turnovers or get the ball stolen away from them as the Gin Kings led, 31-22 after 1 quarter.Joe Devance already had 9 points, on 3 three-pointers.
Jervy Cruz and Slaughter scored the first points of Ginebra in the early minutes of quarter number 2 as the lead reached 12 points off a Jervy Cruz made a basket with barely 3 minutes into the quarter. From that point, Ginebra's lead never went below 8 points as the Gin Kings' players off the bench were able to work with Brownlee as they kept the KaTropa clanking on defense. The rest of the second quarter was a sore in the eyes for TNT fans as their team was not only missing a big amount of shot attempts but also turning the ball every now and then. The Gin Kings were up by 12, at 60-48 after LA Tenorio drained a floater to end the first half
Justin Brownlee scored 15 points in the first half to go along with his 6 rebounds, 4 assists plus 3 steals. Joe Devance added 11 while Greg Slaughter had 8 points off the bench. Ginebra's field goal percentage in the first half was at 52%, a better percentage as to what TNT was able to manage which was at 43%. Ginebra's 10 steals in the first 24 minutes of the game were proven essential as Ginebra were able to run and score on the other end.
Jayson Castro, on the other side of the fence, led TNT with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists while Glen Rice Jr. added 12 points but thanks to Ginebra's defense plus his erratic shot selection, he only made 4 of his 12 shot attempts heading into the halftime break. But what exactly doomed the KaTropa of Coach Nash Racela in the first half? It was their 15 turnovers that were converted into 19 points off those turnovers.
As it turned out, the KaTropa's struggles continued in the second as the lead ballooned to 16 in during opening minutes of the 3rd canto only to be decreased back to 13 on Glen Rice Jr.'s 3-point play.
Then, Joe Devance another trey to put his team up by 17, at 68-51 with under 9 minutes to play in the quarter, prompting Nash Racela to call another timeout. All of a sudden, the lead went up as high as 22 points only for TNT to bring it down to 16 off a Glen Rice Jr. dunk, bringing Tim Cone up from his seat to call a timeout with under 6 minutes left. But that was the closest TNT would get until Glen Rice Jr. drained two charities to bring down the lead to 15 with under two minutes left in the quarter. Throughout the 3rd, Ginebra went with Greg Slaughter who scored on a wide variety of ways but most of his points were scored on the inside, something he was well-known even during his playing days in Cebu. The crowd darling Gin Kings held a 20-point advantage, at 95-75 heading into the 4th quarter.
The KaTropa were held without a single field goal in the first 3 minutes of the final quarter as Ginebra slowly increased their lead to 27 as Jervy Cruz scored on another mid-range shot to prompt another time from Nash Racela. And finally, at the 7:32 mark of the 4th quarter, Alex Nuyles scored the first points of TNT in the quarter but the lead went up 107-77 after a pair of charities from Mark Caguioa. Soon enough, the rest of the bench players of Ginebra took the floor and delivered the finishing touches to the game.
Justin Brownlee again, led the Gin Kings with his 21 points while converting 10 of his 15 attempts. Joe Devance added 19 while Greg Slaughter contributed 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks while leading Ginebra's bench. Ginebra's defense was again, one of the keys that gained Ginebra this win as TNT only made 44% of their attempts, including 30% shooting from downtown. Points scored by bench players was clearly another thing that was dominated by Ginebra as the Gin Kings' bench players combined for 54 points as compared to only 30 points by TNT's bench.
For the players of Nash Racela, Glen Rice Jr. had 26 points but missed 12 of his 20 attempts including 4 of his 5 attempts from deep. Jayson Castro had 16 points but turned the ball over 6 times. Roger Pogoy finished with 12 points but only made 4 of his 13 shots. TNT's inability to score on a more consistent basis throughout the entire game can be contributed to the fact that they never got to hold onto the ball for long as a result of their 22 turnovers.
Ginebra - 121
Brownlee 21, Devance 19, Slaughter 16, Caguioa 13, Tenorio 10, J. Aguilar 10, Cruz 10, Thompson 7, Mercado 7, Mariano 4, Taha 4, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, R. Aguilar 0
TNT - 94
Rice Jr. 26, Castro 16, Pogoy 12, Tautuaa 7, Carey 6, Nuyles 6, Rosario 5, Williams 5, Semerad 5, Hernandez 3, Reyes 2, Chua 1, Golla 0, Lingganay 0, Seigle 0
31-22, 60-48, 95-75, 121-94