Barangay Ginebra San Miguel pulled off a 95-85 win over Phoenix to grab the final quarterfinal seat of the 46th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
With main gunners Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar out, Prince Caperal stepped up, powering the Kings to this crucial win that gave them the last playoff spot and kept their title-retention bid alive.
Caperal delivered 19 points and four rebounds while Stanley Pringle added 17 markers, eight rebounds and four assists for Ginebra, which will face top seed TNT Tropang Giga in the quarterfinals next week.
The Tropang Giga, who finished the eliminations with a 10-1 win-loss mark, will be armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, giving them a massive edge in the rematch of last year’s final showdown won by the Kings.
Christian Standhardinger delivered a double-double game of 15 points and 12 rebounds while Jared Dillinger registered 13 markers.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said their win was a great confidence booster heading for the next round.
“We just needed to get back and keep things simple. We made adjustments on the offensive end,” said Cone, whose wards flirted with disaster before Joe Devance and Aljon Mariano restored order to seal the victory in the final 13 seconds.
“Here we are, this is not what we’ve expected. We had a choice, it’s either we keep going or we back off, and our guys decided to keep going.”
Cone said their mission is far from over as they have to confront a Tropang Giga squad that is hungry for revenge with rookie Mikey Williams, Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario at the helm.
“Hopefully, we can take this attitude to our next game against TNT. We’re in a tough position,” Cone said.
Meanwhile, quarterfinal action heats up with four teams looking to draw the first blood in their respective best-of-three duels.
Magnolia battles Rain or Shine in the first game at 2 p.m. while San Miguel Beer clashes with NorthPort in the second game at 4:35 p.m. in a bid to boost their bids for semifinal spots.
Despite emerging as the third seed, the battle will not be easy for the Hotshots.
They, for one, suffered a 72-75 loss to the sixth-ranked Elasto Painters in their elimination round encounter on 10 September, prompting them to come up with necessary adjustments if they want to win Game 1.
On the same note, the fourth-seed Beermen flirted with disaster and had to bank on an Arwind Santos game-winner before booking an 86-88 win over NorthPort in their lone encounter on 25 July.
San Miguel, however, is tipped to have a loaded firepower with scoring leader Terrence Romeo making a return to counter the gritty NorthPort squad that overhauled a 1-3 start to claim the fifth spot in the playoffs.
Romeo missed the final two games of the eliminations due to an Achilles injury and his presence will be a major boost to the Beermen, who are looking to regain the Philippine Cup crown it lost to Ginebra inside the Clark bubble last year.
But against NorthPort, the battle will not be easy.
The Batang Pier will march with chip on their shoulders after losing the Beermen in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup in 2019.
Robert Bolick is coming off a red-hot, triple-double performance while Greg Slaughter is looking fit and ready to rekindle his rivalry with June Mar Fajardo in the shaded lanes.
Rookie Jamie Malonzo could also give the Beermen veterans a hard time, making the Batang Pier very capable of pulling off an earthshaking upset.
GINEBRA 95 – Caperal 19, Pringle 17, Standhardinger 15, Dillinger 13, Tenorio 9, Mariano 8, Devance 6, Ayaay 4, Chan 2
PHOENIX 85 – Perkins 15, Banchero 14, Wright 14, Jazul 12, Pascual 11, Demusis 9, Muyang 5, Rios 3, Garcia 2, Calisaan 0
Quarters: 22-20, 49-38, 79-66, 95-85