DIFFERENT episode, same result. Japeth Aguilar continued to roll, lifting Barangay Ginebra to a 99-91 win over Rain or Shine and to the semifinals of the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aguilar gave his team a big lift in the fourth by scoring 12 of his game-high 27 points in the quarter and adding 12 rebounds and three blocks in a monster game for the Gin Kings, who swept their best-of-three affair with the Painters, 2-0.
“Before the game, Coach Tim (Cone) reminded us that it’s hard to close out a series and it needs a tremendous amount of effort and focus. We all came out prepared. I’m really proud of our team,” said Aguilar following yet another impressive performance.
Looking forward, Ginebra, which defeated Rain or Shine three straight times including their encounter in the eliminations, is now set to face three-time defending champion San Miguel Beer in a hotly-anticipated best-of-seven semifinal series--a rematch of last season’s finale.
Jervy Cruz came off the bench to provide some much-needed scoring spark with 18 points and seven rebounds, while LA Tenorio provided more help with 17 points and three assists.
Once again, the two teams engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle for most part just like their previous two meetings.
Still, it was deja vu as Ginebra once again took charge when it mattered in the fourth period, keeping Rain or Shine at bay while delivering the finishing kick.
“Japeth (Aguilar) played a really good and dynamic second half for us. It’s such a huge relief to get through to the semifinals,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “We now face the monster (San Miguel and June Mar Fajardo). We got them coming up.”
Ginebra started out strong, taking a 28-19 advantage after the opening frame.
However, Rain or Shine bounced back with a burly second quarter surge, where it outscored the Gin Kings, 27-15, to snatch the lead, 46-43, heading to halftime.
The Gin Kings, though, regained control by responding with a strong third period to retake the lead, 77-72, heading into the fourth.
With momentum on its side, Ginebra was able to hold on and shrug off each attempted run by the Elasto Painters.
Now, the three berths in the semis are all claimed by the Beermen, the Gin Kings and the Magnolia Hotshots, all San Miguel Corporation teams.
Maverick Ahanmisi led Rain or Shine with a team-high 18 points but he only managed three markers in the second half.
BARANGAY GINEBRA 99—Aguilar 27, Cruz 18, Tenorio 17, Mercado 10, Devance 10, Thompson 9, Ferrer 6, Taha 2, Mariano 0, Manuel 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 91—Ahanmisi 18, Daquioag 14, Almazan 14, Belga 13, Nambatac 8, Norwood 7, Ponferada 7, Washington 5, Onwubere 3, Borboran 2.
Quarters: 28-19, 43-46, 77-72, 99-91.
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