By JONAS TERRADO
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone was thrilled to see his team gain a 3-2 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup behind a consistent shooting and veteran poise amid a Meralco comeback bid in the fourth quarter of Game 5.
The Gin Kings moved one win from retaining supremacy in the season-ending conference after holding the Bolts, 115-110, before 18,251 fans Sunday, April 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cone cited Ginebra’s offense which finally breached triple-digits for the first time in the title affair along with 51-percent clip highlighted by 16 three-point shots.
Justin Brownlee fired 40 points after making 13 of 17 attempts while Scottie Thompson scored 19 in another near triple-double effort.
But it was not only the two players who stepped up as Arvin Tolentino scored 16 with four triples, Nards Pinto’s eight points were timely while Christian Standhardinger added 13.
“We scored 115 points against a really, really good Meralco defense,” said Cone, whose team averaged 89.8 points in the first four games.
“They’re the best defensive team in the league and scored 115 points, that’s something how well we shot the ball tonight.”
Cone was also pleased that Ginebra’s experience in championship play paid dividends late in the contest when Meralco cut a 14-point deficit down to one with under five minutes left.
It was there that Standhardinger made back-to-back baskets before Thompson ended any chances of a Meralco comeback with a huge triple with over two minutes remaining for a 105-97 lead.
“I’m fortunate I got a team who understands things,” said Cone. “They’ve been through the wars, they’re veterans and they know how to settle down and they can think the game through.
“So just really fortunate to have a veteran team that’s been doing this stuff for a while and they handled it extremely well.”
On the doorstep of another championship, Cone is still not feeling a sense of comfort after Ginebra’s Easter Sunday close call.
Game 6, the potential clincher, is slated Wednesday with a perhaps a new attendance during the record set to be made.
“It’s still very, very far away,” he said. “It seems that it’s close, but it’s still very far away.”