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PBA: Ginebra routs TnT

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:15 p.m. – Alaska vs San Mig Coffee (Game 1)

Banking on its strong start, Barangay Ginebra continued to make heads turn after scoring a huge 104-81 win over Talk N Text last night in game One of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Cebuana Lhuillier Playoffs at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Ginebra import Vernon Macklin led the team’s balanced attack with 25 points, nine rebounds in 35 minutes of action, while Kerby Raymundo contributed 14 points and nine boards, while rookie Chris Ellis had 13 markers. Mac Baracel and Josh Urbiztondo added 12 points each.

The Kings’ solid showing in the first half of play allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game, allowing the coaching staff to rest ace shooter Mark Caguioa, the reigning league Most Valuable Player (MVP) who is still recovering from a left knee injury.

“I’m going to give it to my players. I guess we caught Talk ’N Text on an off night,” said Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua. “They’re a champion team with a champion coach (Norman Black). I know they’re going to bounce back in Game 2.”

“I just told the players to stay humble, work hard, stay focused and continue to show that attitude of ‘never say die’ of the team,” added Chua, whose team can take a 2-0 advantage in the five-game series in Game 2 tomorrow also at the Big Dome.

TNT import Jerome Jordan finished with 21 points and eight boards, but got little help as Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo added 18 and 12 points, respectively.

It was all Ginebra in the first half as it unleashed a strong start, grabbing a 33-15 advantage during the first 12 minutes of the game.

The Kings, who barged into the Final Four by beating twice-to-beat Rain or Shine in the quarterfinal playoffs, went 13-of-21 (61.9%) in the opening quarter while holding the Tropang Texters to a miserable 6-of-21 (28.6%) shooting from the field.

Mac Baracael was a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point territory in the first quarter, his third triple put the Kings ahead, 26-10, with 2:22 left in the period.

Jayjay Helterbrand, who has played solid off the bench for Ginebra in the playoffs, scored four consecutive points with 1.5 seconds left in the first quarter – burying two free throws and off a TNT turnover he made a basket at the buzzer to end the period.

Ginebra’s attack continued in the second frame with import Vernon Macklin delivering a pair of spectacular plays to the delight of the pro-Ginebra crowd of 14,627 that packed the Big Dome in this opening-series of the semifinals.

Macklin threw down a vicious two-handed slam dunk on a lob pass from LA Tenorio, who tossed the leather at mid court, giving the Kings a 46-22 lead with 7:37 to play. A few minutes later, Macklin again slammed the ball on a follow up to make it 56-31.