By REYNALD MAGALLON
The Ginebra Gin Kings clipped the Bay Area Dragons’ wings in the crunch and went on to win another wild and woolly contest – all thanks to Stanley Pringle.
Pringle played the fireman’s role to the hilt as he buried two clutch triples to help power Barangay Ginebra to a pulsating 101-91 victory over Bay Area and move on cusp of the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup title in Game 5 of their Finals series at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, Jan. 8.
With the Dragons threatening to author their own comeback after cutting Ginebra’s lead down to just five from as high as 18, Pringle rose to the occasion, drilling in the first triple from the left corner before sinking the all-important one from the opposite side in a span of 30 seconds for a 97-86 advantage and a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series.
Pringle’s last triple sent majority of the 21,823 fans in frenzied celebration – popular actor Daniel Padilla included. Also in attendance was Sen. Joel Villanueva.
Ginebra can clinch the title in Game 6 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Pringle finished with 20 points – 11 of which he dropped in the final frame to provide ample support to Justin Brownlee who put on another splendid outing on both ends of the floor with 30 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
It seemed like Ginebra had actually learned from its mistake in the last game after shrugging off an early game resistance from the Dragons and maintaining a double-digit spread in the middle quarters.
Though they fell behind, 76-58, in the third, the Dragons refused to raise the white flag just yet as crawled their way back into the contest and broke through the double-digit barrier in the final frame, 89-81, after six straight points from Kobey Lam.
Brownlee scored on a floater but another triple from Qilong Zheng and free throws from Hayden Blankley shoved the Dragons within five that set the stage up for another exciting finish.
But Pringle was there to provide the telling blows, while Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar provided the icing on the cake with clutch baskets.
LA Tenorio suffered a groin injury late in the first half and was not fielded back again,
Without Andrew Nicholson for the second straight game, Hayden Blankley stepped up for the Dragons with 29 points built on five triples while Lam recovered from a sluggish start to still finish with 16 points across his name.
GINEBRA 101 – Brownlee 37, Pringle 20, J.Aguilar 12, Tenorio 8, Malonzo 7, Thompson 7, Standhardinger 5, Pinto 3, Gray 2, Mariano 0.
BAY AREA 91 – Blankley 29, Lam 16, Zheng 15, Liu 10, Ewing 9, Song 5, Reid 2, Ju 2.
Quarters: 23-24, 54-43, 76-62, 101-91.