Last Sunday, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel found themselves entering the 4th quarter down 68-80 to the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters.
Most of you probably already know how the game ended, but Ginebra’s thrilling comeback in this one goes beyond Aguilar’s late game heroics. To fully appreciate how the “never say die” spirit of the Barangay once again came through, we’ll have to look at some key moments in that deciding quarter.
We start this anatomy of a comeback at the top of the deciding quarter, with Coach Ato deciding to field out a line-up of Herterbrand, Ellis, Baracael, Aguilar and Slaughter. The score at that point:
68-80, Talk N’ Text
Immediately, Ginebra went to Baracael down on the block against Fonacier (a match-up that they would look to exploit) and despite entering the game for the 1st time, Baracael was able to convert against his defender who isn’t really used to defending against post-ups.
Ginebra down, 70-80, 11:30 left
After a Baclao jumper off an offensive rebound to give TNT an 82-70 lead, Ginebra gets into their offense quick and smoothly finds Baracael out on the wing for a good look at a three.
Ginebra down, 73-82, 9:24 left
On their next possession, Monfort and Aguilar combine on a pick and roll, where Aguilar rolls down the lane, converts the bucket and draws a foul. After hitting the bonus charity, Ginebra further trims the TNT lead.
Ginebra down 76-82, 8:45 left
Chris Ellis and Greg Slaughter get to the line after Ginebra makes successful defensive stops in the next two possessions and we pick up the score at 79-82. With Talk N’ Text needing a basket to stop Ginebra’s run, the Texters get two points off a tough jumper by Williams off a semi-broken play.
Ginebra down 79-84, 7:37 left
After a Slaughter putback off an offensive rebound to bring Ginebra to 81-84, Monfort then mans-up and plays amazing pressure defense on Castro, funnelling him into the waiting arms of Slaughter, forcing him to pass the ball out to Sean Anthony who puts up a terrible runner.
Slaughter grabs the rebound, outlets to Tenorio, who then finds Baracael for his second three.
Ginebra ties the game, 84-84, 6:30 left
After TNT converts a basket, Monfort and Aguilar execute a pick and pop that resulted in an open look for Japeth from beyond the arc. Clearly, TNT’s game plan is to clog the inside, happily giving up perimeter looks for Ginebra’s bigs.
With nobody near him, Aguilar rises up and hits the trey.
Ginebra up 87-86, 6:02 remaining
Off a timeout, TNT gets the ball to Fonacier, who puts up a very difficult floater/runner hybrid shot.
Ginebra down, 87-88, 5:32 remaining
We pick-up the action after Baracael ties the game at 88 from the line.
Over the next few possessions, both teams start trading misses and with around three minutes left in the final frame, TNT enters the ball into their set after rebounding a Monfort miss.
Jimmy Alapag brings down the ball and gets a pick near the halfcourt line from Baclao. He then tries to drive around Slaughter, but the rookie’s length and Aguilar’s help defense forces Alapag into a bailout pass to Williams in the short corner.
Open jumper. Misses.
Rebound Slaughter, outlet Monfort, passes to Baracael on the right wing with Fonacier on him.
Baracel sets his feet, Fonacier takes one step back.
Baracael launches another three.
Ginebra takes the lead, 91-88, 2:20 remaining
At this point, with TNT looking stunned and in search for an answer, Coach Norman elects to go to Jimmy Alapag who proceeds to get fouled on a three-point attempt and gives Talk N’ Text three points from the line, cutting the Ginebra lead to a singular point.
After a TNT stop on a Baracael post-up, Alapag gets a pass from Castro and launches a contested three that misses, but is cleaned up by Williams who was able to attack the rebound uncontested.
Ginebra down, 92-93, 1:02 remaining
Ginebra quickly gets the two points back though, as Monfort and Aguilar play the two man game again, with Aguilar rolling this time, finishing a tough shot around the basket.
Ginebra up, 94-93, 51.3 remaining
With 36.4 seconds left and 10 seconds left on the shot clock, Coach Norman Black draws up a beautiful baseline out of bounds play that gets Fonacier open (very briefly), for a mid-range jumper.
Basically, Coach Norman’s play called for Fonacier to use three screens and yet Aguilar’s length almost didn’t allow him to get a shot off.
Ginebra down, 94-95, 34.1 remaining
Off a timeout, Coach Ato brings LA Tenorio back in and he runs a pick and roll with Aguilar. Japeth gets the ball on the left wing, fakes a shot, drives, and gets met at the rim by Baclao, who then gets the rebound and is fouled.
He misses both. Ginebra ball with 22.9 seconds left.
The possession that ensues sees Tenorio milking the clock till around the 10 second mark and then calls both Slaughter and Aguilar to give him a double screen near the right side of the court. As Tenorio moves to use the Slaughter screen to his right, Aguilar then pops back out to the three point line, with his defender Williams staying near the lane, anticipating either a Tenorio drive or a Slaughter roll into the paint.
Seeing Aguilar open, Tenorio rifles the pass to him with 4.3 seconds left.
Mayhem ensues. Talk N’ Text timeout.
Ginebra takes the lead, 97-95, 1.1 remaining
To complete the comeback, Coach Ato sends out a behemoth of a line-up (Ellis, Baracael, Reyes, Aguilar and Slaughter) to defend the Texter’s final play.
It’s just fitting I guess, that Japeth ends up switching out to deny De Ocampo’s attempt to tie the game.
Never say die? Yeah, that’s about right.