By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings took a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup finals series over the TNT Tropang Giga following their 100-94 overtime victory in Game One on Sunday.
It was a win the Kings attributed to team effort amid a grind of a battle that the Tropang Giga put up.
“Everybody contributed and it’s really a great team effort. We got a lot of contributions, and that is how things should be if we are to beat TNT in this series,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone following their hard-earned victory.
The win moved the Kings a step closer to their first Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Filipino title in over a decade.
In Game One, Barangay Ginebra found itself in close fight throughout the contest, needing to dig deep and hang tough in the end game.
Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio stepped up for the Kings down the stretch to help their team get the better of the Tropang Giga in the opener.
Mr. Aguilar had 14 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth period and overtime. He also finished with 16 rebounds.
Veteran guard Tenorio, meanwhile, was a steadying factor for Barangay Ginebra on his way to a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists, with no turnover to show for.
Stanley Pringle had all-around numbers of 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and so did Scottie Thompson, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Rookie Arvin Tolentino also came up big in his finals debut, tallying 14 points, including the game-tying basket with five seconds remaining in regulation that sent the game to extra period.
While happy to get the upper hand at the onset of the series, Mr. Cone said the fight is far from over and TNT will try to bounce back and that they have to be ready.
“This is just the first game. There is going to be a lot of back-and-forth. They have a lot of ways to play the game and we have to adjust throughout this rigorous seven-game series,” said Mr. Cone, who is looking to add a 23rd PBA title to his stellar PBA coaching career and fifth with Barangay Ginebra.
PARKS NOW LEADS
Meanwhile, TNT’s Ray Parks grabbed the statistical race lead, putting him in prime position to take the top individual honors in the PBA’s tournament bubble.
At the end of the semifinals, Mr. Parks, son of legendary PBA import Bobby, raised his total statistical points to 38.3 after averages of 22.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Coming in second was comebacking Phoenix Super LPG forward Calvin Abueva (37.1 SPs), followed by league top scorer CJ Perez (35.7) of Terrafirma.
Erstwhile SP leader Matthew Wright of Phoenix, who got injured in the early goings of the semifinals, slid to fourth with 35.6 points, with Northport’s Christian Standhardinger rounding out the top five with 34.6 SPs.
Mr. Parks fouled in Game One of the PBA Philippine Cup finals, but not after putting-up a team-high 20 points to go along with five steals, four rebounds and four assists.