The Gin Kings’ relentless pursuit finally paid dividends in the fourth quarter as the Brownlee-led 24-8 charge coincided with the KaTropa’s shooting going ice cold, with TNT firing a paltry 2-of-20 clip in the first eight minutes of the period.
Ginebra, then, took a 104-94 lead with 4:07 left to play punctuated by a three from LA Tenorio before Greg Slaughter iced the game with a huge slam to give coach Tim Cone his 32nd finals appearance.
“We were just fortunate that Glen Rice went out. But it was still a great game; they were making shots. It was quite a frustrating first half,” said Cone.
Tenorio chipped in 25 markers, seven assists, and four boards, Slaughter had 21 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks, and Sol Mercado added 11 markers, three boards, and three dimes in the Ginebra win.
With its back against the wall, TNT came out like a house on fire as it established an early 16-point advantage, 35-19, courtesy of a three from Anthony Semerad.
But that blaze was quickly doused after KaTropa reinforcement Glen Rice Jr. was ejected with 1:41 remaining in the opening frame after incurring a flagrant foul penalty one and a technical for throwing the ball to a fallen Kevin Ferrer.
Though Jayson Castro kept TNT in the driver’s seat and put his team up by 18, 72-54 in the third quarter, Brownlee had other plans as the import commandeered Ginebra’s 28-point third quarter outburst to cut the KaTropa lead down to six, 86-80, at the end of the third quarter and set up the close finish.