The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings are on a quest, not only to shake off the “kangkong” moniker, but to become the de jure AND de facto “NEVER SAY DIE” team in the PBA. Coming back from a 14-point halftime deficit against Alaska, on a do-or-die game, has a quieting effect on Ginebra nay-sayers, and so all was quiet except in Barangay Ginebra as they live to fight another day with their 85 – 81 win over Alaska.
Early on it seemed like Alaska was just going to blow by the Gin Kings. Calvin Abueva was firing on all cylinders, hitting three pointers and mid-range layups left and right. The Beast finished the game with a team high 20 points and 10 rebounds for Alaska, building a first half lead that made it seem like Alaska was comfortably ahead.
But at halftime it was as if Bugs Bunny was passing around bottles of “Jaworski’s Secret Stuff” in the locker room, as a fire was lit under the Ginebra bench. After slipping even more to start the 2nd half, Ginebra put on a furious 16 – 0 run led by L.A. Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Sol Mercado, capped of by Dave Marcelo to tie the game at 53.
From here, Ginebra built a 62 – 54 lead heading into the 4th quarter. Alaska tried to fight back and show signs of why they were the de facto “Never Say Die” team of the PBA for a while. Shot for shot, JVee Casio, Dondon Hontiveros traded threes with L.A. Tenorio and Scottie Thompson, but Alaska was the first to flinch.
Up three, Sol Mercado missed two free throws with less than 20 seconds left in the game, fortunately for Ginebra Japeth Aguilar grabbed one of his 15 rebounds of the game from that miss. Tenorio iced the game, sending Alaska back to the drawing board, extending their playoff run by at least a game.