by Waylon Galvez
Game Today (Astrodome, Pasay City)
5 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs San Mig Coffee
Manila, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel scored 69 points in the first two quarters – the most by any team in this conference – to cruise to a 108-95 win over Alaska Milk, in their do-or-die match in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Astrodome in Pasay City.
Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar, a contender for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC), celebrated his 27th birthday by posting a career-high 29 points aside from 14 rebounds and five shot blocks.
The victory lifted the Kings to the best-of-seven semifinal series against the winner of the quarterfinal series between Talk ‘N Text and San Mig Super Coffee.
It marks the second time the Kings made the Final Four in the last three conferences and the first since making the Commissioner’s Cup Finals where they were swept by Alaska in three matches.
It will also be the team’s first semifinals stint in the last three all-Filipino conferences. The last time the Kings made the All-Filipino finals was in 2006.
“Iyung intensity namin napaka-taas and the energy is there,” said Ginebra head coach Ato Agustin.
The Kings opened a 39-21 advantage in the first period.
“And ‘yung adjustment napaka-ganda din, we were able to dictate the tempo with the help of the fans… napaka-laki ng help ng crowd,” Agustin added.
The Ginebra coach also cited the team’s big men.
“Our big guys stepped up, ‘yung discipline nila napaka-ganda. Naging patient sa offense, and ang ganda talaga ng depensa namin,” said Agustin.
Ironically, Ginebra was outrebounded by Alaska, 52-51.
LA Tenorio contributed 22 points including with three three-pointers while adding seven rebounds, seven assists and three of the team’s eight steals in the game.
Chris Ellis came off the bench to score 16 points, while Mac Baracael and 2012 league MVP Mark Caguioa had 12 points each.
Ginebra’s top rookie pick Greg Slaughter, the team’s 7-foot center, finished with 11 points and five boards.
Slaughter came home with a scratch on the neck after Alaska sophomore Calvin Abueva held on to him and was assessed with a foul in the third quarter.
The Kings face a daunting task in the semifinals.
The Tropang Texters and the Mixers are tied at 1-1 in their best-of-three series, with the do-or-die Game 3 scheduled today at 5 p.m. also at the Astrodome in Pasay City.
Agustin said either team poses a big threat.
“Kahit na sino siguro maka-laban namin. Ang importante naka-pasok kami sa semifinals. Kahit sino mag-prepare na lang kami,” said Agustin.
The Kings led the Aces by as many as 31 points, 76-45, early in the third quarter.
The Aces trimmed the deficit to just 14 points, 105-91, on a three-point play by Sonny Thoss, but Slaughter drew the sixth and last foul of Thoss in the next play. The Ginebra rookie split his free throws to make it 106-91 with 1:59 to play.
The eighth-seeded Alaska, which forced the rubber-match, 104-97, Wednesday, saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
Jvee Casio had 16 points while Gabby Espinas also scored 16 markers with 13 rebounds. Abueva added 13 points.
Emotions ran high in the opening period when Abueva was whistled with a Flagrant 1 for second motion when he hit Slaughter with en elbow to the head. Caguioa was also assessed with Flagrant 1 when he hit Abueva on the face Abueva in the second period.