Barangay Ginebra San Miguel ended its eight-year title drought in the most dramatic way possible, clinching the Governors’ Cup with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from import Justin Brownlee.
The 91-88 victory over the Meralco Bolts gave the Gin Kings their first title since 2008.
“That was such a brilliant play I designed,” quipped Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who broke the spell after joining the Gin Kings before the season.
“He just made a great play on his own.”
Brownlee finished the game with 31 points, while finals Most Valuable Player LA Tenorio had 25 points, six assists, five rebounds, and just one turnover in over 37 minutes on the floor.
Scottie Thompson was the only other Ginebra player in double figures with 10.
Veterans Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand had six and five points, respectively.
The Gin Kings won before a jampacked crowd at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum, which included Ginebra icon Robert Jaworski.
The former Ginebra playing coach even had a hand in the Gin Kings’ comeback from a 15-point halftime deficit, addressing the team in the locker room.
“I truly believed he settled everybody down,” said Cone. “I think the guys really felt something from that.”
Tenorio scored 20 points to bring Ginebra back in the third quarter. It was a seesaw battle in the fourth period, with neither team leading by more than five points.
A Brownlee basket at the 2:21 mark nudged Ginebra ahead, before Jimmy Alapag knotted the game at the free throw line with 89 seconds left.
A steal and a pair of freethrows from Cliff Hodge had Meralco on top by two with 35 seconds remaining, but Brownlee took it upon himself anew to even the game off a time out, 88-all.
With 29 seconds left, Meralco milked the clock, but import Allen Durham missed with seven seconds left to give Ginebra a chance to win the game.
Off another timeout, Brownlee pulled up form deep just before the buzzer for the victory.
Rookie Chris Newsome paced Meralco with 19 points, seven boards and three assists, while Allen Durham was limited to just 15 points. The import accounted for 10 assists and eight boards in almost 41 minutes on the floor. Reynel Hugnatan added 12, while Brian Faundo and Alapag had eight each. Hodge was limited to just six markers. —JST, GMA News