The Gin Kings engaged the Beermen in a nip-and-tuck battle last night before escaping with a thrilling 87-83 victory for a 3-2 edge in the series that featured blowouts in the first four games.
“I guess everybody got what they wanted, it was a close game,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone as the Kings moved within a game of clinching the series before a sellout crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
“I remember calling a timeout and told them, ‘guys it’s all about playing great defense and making stops,’” added Cone, whose team efficiently responded by stifling Renaldo Balkman in a crucial play in the end.
On the offensive front for the Kings, it was Scottie Thompson who made the big difference.
The two-way guard scored six of Ginebra’s last seven points, including one off a nifty feed from Justin Brownlee inside the lane that put them ahead, 84-83, before the Beermen bungled several chances to alter the outcome.
After Balkman forced the issue and got smothered by Brownlee and Greg Slaughter in the paint, Arwind Santos and Chris Ross flubbed three attempts from beyond the arc with Ross entirely missing the mark in the last heave of the sequence.
LA Tenorio split his freethrows in the ensuing play and sealed the Ginebra triumph with 2.9 seconds remaining.
“We got the crucial Game 5. The war is out there still, but this is an important one,” said Cone. “Suddenly, we’re going for it on Wednesday (Game 6).”
Balkman was a nightmare for the Kings, overpowering the Ginebra frontline in an almost no-relief effort of 34 points and 20 rebounds, nine of them off the offensive glass that erased the mistakes of his teammates.
Thompson stepped on the plate when the defense clogged on Brownlee and Slaughter in the shaded area, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds with important possessions down the stretch.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.