Ginebra-TNT duel: Anybody’s game


WITH the pendulum making its way to the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Finals, the race-to-seven duel is back to square one and neither TNT nor defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel could claim a realistic edge.

TNT leveled the series, 95-82, on Wednesday night in Game 2 where Tropang Giga import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did a good job handcuffing the Gin Kings’ Justin Brownlee while going on a shooting spree of his own.

Hollis-Jefferson had a near triple-double of 23 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists to Brownlee’s 12 points on 3 of 16 shooting and zero from three-point territory—a rarity for the six-time Best Import who managed to stay in the fight with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

But Hollis-Jefferson deflected praises to his teammates.

“It’s the will to win and you have to give credit to everybody. Everybody did an excellent job and played their role,” said the 6-foot-5 Hollis-Jefferson as he, game-after-game, underscored his certified National Basketball Association skill set.

“Everybody played a significant role in today’s game,” he said. “It was a collective effort.”

Ginebra head coach Tim Cone gave the TNT import a tap on the back.

“We were surprised with his [Hollis-Jefferson] defense and he did a great job,” he said.

But Cone stressed a Brownlee scoring less on a difficult night is the least of his worries.

“I never worry about him [Brownlee] having a tough night because he always responds,” Cone said. “He is the least of our worries.”

In the first two games of the Finals—Ginebra won the first, 102-90—Brownlee averaged 21.5 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Hollis-Jefferson 26.5 points, 19.5 rebounds and seven assists.

Cone said “it’s time to play with a little more discipline and come out with a little more fire” in Game 3 set at 5:45 p.m. Friday again at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Tropang Giga? They’re back with their sniping ways from a lethargic Game 1 performance.

Roger Pogoy and Mikey Williams scoring 17 and 21 points, respectively, with Calvin Oftana adding 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The bad news though is head coach Jojo Lastimosa will be without 6-foot-7 Justin Chua who’s nursing an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

But the good news is that 6-foot-7 veteran Kelly Williams is cleared to play from a knee injury.

“The good news is Kelly Williams will be cleared for Friday but we don’t know how much we’re going to get from him,” Lastimosa said. “So if he can give us valuable minutes, that will be a welcome sight.”

“But we’re ready to play with a small line up,” added Lastimosa referring to more minutes for Oftana at the 4 and Glenn Khabunting at the 3 positions.

Pogoy was firing from all cylinders in Game 2 after being held to only six points in the series opener.

“They refused to lose that night and they knew that we can’t go down 0-2,” Lastimosa said. “The players knew that this was a must win for us.”

Christian Standhardinger led Ginebra with 29 points and 11 rebounds in the Game 1 loss.

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