By REYNALD MAGALLON
A shorthanded Barangay Ginebra still proved to be too much for NorthPort, running away with a 115-100 victory to keep its record unblemished in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, Feb. 10.
The Kings had to endure a strong first half from the Batang Pier and a thin frontline rotation following the injuries to Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger and Raymond Aguilar before pulling away in the final frame to remain perfect after three games.
Justin Brownlee expectedly shone for the Kings with another triple-double outing of 22 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists while it was Jamie Malonzo who stepped up big for the Kings with career-high 28 points along with 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Coach Tim Cone actually had to dig deep into his bench which didn’t disappoint with John Pinto providing the spark with 18 points – 13 of which highlighted a huge second quarter rally from the Kings which erased an early 10 point deficit.
Jeremiah Gray added 16 points while Aljon Mariano contributed 12 as the Kings was forced to play small ball for the most part of the contest due to the injuries.
The Kings unleashed a 17-5 run bridging the third and final frames to seize full control of the contest turning a 71-69 deficit into a commanding 86-76 lead. Ginebra never looked back from there as it kept NorthPort at bay behind the timely hits from Malonzo, Gray and Brownlee.’
Robert Bolick impressed in his first game back after missing NorthPort’s first four games finishing with 30 points while returning import Kevin Murphy added 38 points although had to take 41 shots to reach his output.
Meantine, Magnolia finally barged into the win column with a dominant, 108-95, victory over Phoenix in the first game.
The Hotshots stepped their foot on the gas pedal during a furious second quarter rally where they outscored the Fuel Masters, 35-15, to break the game wide open and pick up its first win after absorbing three-straight losses to open the season-ending conference.
Magnolia’s import change from Eric McCree to Antonio Hester immediately worked wonders as the burly forward manned the interior defense for the Hotshots who were badly needing an anchor with star big man Ian Sangalang still sidelined.
Hester, who previously played for Terrafirma, announced his return with 28 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals while Mark Barroca and Calvin Abueva obviously made sure to take advantage of the defense Hester was attracting, finishing with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
MAGNOLIA 108 – Hester 28, Barroca 19, Abueva 18, Lee 14, Ahanmisi 12, Dela Rosa 6, Escoto 4, Wong 3, Jalalon 2, Laput 2, Corpuz 0, Reavis 0, Dionisio 0, Mendoza 0,
PHOENIX 95 – Perkins 20, Muyang 15, Tio 13, Maxwell 11, Jazul 9, Serrano 8, Manganti 6, Alejandro 4, Soyud 3, Adamos 3, Go 3, Lalata 0, Garcia 0, Camacho 0.
Quarters: 23-21, 58-36, 87-67, 108-95.
GINEBRA 115 – Malonzo 28, Brownlee 22, Pinto 18, Gray 16, Mariano 12, Pringle 5, Thompson 5, R.Aguilar 4, Onwubere 3, Pessumal 2, Tenorio 0, David 0.
NORTHPORT 100 – Murphy 38, Bolick 30, Munzon 12, Tolentino 7, Taha 4, Chan 3, Calma 2, Caperal 2, Dela Cruz 2, Ayaay 0, Salado 0, Zamar 0.
Quarters: 15-25, 51-50, 79-73, 115-100.