by Jonas Terrado
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel ended its playoff misery against Magnolia with a 106-80 win Tuesday to earn the first semifinal berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee sizzled for 30 points while veteran Mark Caguioa provided the spark with 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting as Ginebra completed a quarterfinal sweep of the Hotshots to reach the final four of the midseason tilt.
The victory also broke Ginebra’s dryspell against its “Manila Clasico” rival after losing in the semifinals of last season’s Governors’ Cup and the quarterfinals of this year’s Philippine Cup.
“Certainly this is a big surprise. We didn’t expect this,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, whose team got back to its more up-tempo game after grinding out an 85-79 win in the series opener last Saturday.
“We were really determined because we had come out and not played well in Game 2s in the last couple of conferences against this team so it was really on us to come out and change the narrative and make it different,” he added.
Japeth Aguilar had 18 points, six rebounds and three assists, LA Tenorio registered 13 points and seven assists and Stanley Pringle produced 11 points for the Kings, who will face either top seed TNT KaTropa or eighth-ranked Alaska.
TNT and Alaska dispute the right to face Ginebra in a best-of-five series Wednesday at the Big Dome.
Mark Barroca finished with 17 points and five assists but Magnolia suffered its second straight quarterfinal exit in the midseason conference.
Import Rakeem Christmas tallied 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks but couldn’t help the Hotshots force a deciding third game.
Brownlee and Caguioa combined for 12 points in the second as the Kings outscored the Hotshots, 23-16, to take a 47-39 halftime lead.
Ginebra continued the onslaught in the third, putting up 40 points while Magnolia only had 21. A Joe Devance’s basket with less than seven minutes left gave the Kings their first 20-point lead, 69-49.
Brownlee kept his scoring ways in the third before Caguioa scored a bank shot in front of Christmas to put Ginebra ahead 89-60 entering the fourth.
GINEBRA 106 — Brownlee 30, J. Aguilar 18, Tenorio 13, Caguioa 12, Pringle 11, Thompson 9, Devance 4, Slaughter 4, Teodoro 3, Mariano 2, Caperal 0, R. Aguilar 0.
MAGNOLIA 80 — Barroca 17, Christmas 15, Sangalang 12, Jalalon 8, Reavis 8, Lee 5, Herndon 5, Dela Rosa 3, Abundo 3, Simon 2, Gamalinda 0, Ramos 0, Melton 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 24-23, 47-39, 87-60, 106-80.