Ginebra rises from 16-point deficit to inflict first loss on SMB


MANILA — The depleted and down-in-the-dumps Barangay Ginebra Kings revived their never-say-die spirit in the nick of time to score a resounding come-from-behind 100-96 victory over erstwhile unbeaten San Miguel Beer on Sunday night at the jampacked Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Missing two key players in Greg Slaughter and Joe Devance due to injuries, Ginebra finally found a way to win after losing three straight games in lopsided margins. The Kings thus improved to a 3-3 win-loss card to forge a five-way tie for fourth to eighth place together with Rain or Shine, GlobalPort, TNT, and Phoenix. The SMB loss allowed idle Magnolia to force a two-way tie at the top, both with a 5-1 card.

Coach Tim Cone gambled on playing his two Aguilars — 6’9” Japeth and 6’5” Raymond — together as a starter. The gamble worked as the two delivered big time. Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio led the Kings with 23 points apiece. Japeth Aguilar also collected nine rebounds and two assists while Tenorio added six assists, five boards, two steals, and one block in his stats line.

In his finest game yet for Ginebra, Raymond Aguilar poured 16 points, including two three-pointers, along with two rebounds in almost 30 minutes as a surprise starter.

Jervy Cruz also stepped up for Ginebra, finishing with 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, on top of seven rebounds and two assists.

The Beermen dominated the first two quarters of the game, leading by as much as 16 points. But the Kings came out on fire after the halftime break, outscoring the Beermen, 28-14, to overhaul the deficit and erect a 14-point lead of their own.

SMB rallied and pulled to within two points, 95-97, with a minute left. But the Kings nailed three straight free throws against one by the Beermen to put the game away.

SMB’s June Mar Fajardo led all scorers with 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting, on top of 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and one steal in over 39 minutes of action. However, the four-time MVP committed six turnovers that didn’t help in stopping the rampaging Kings.

GlobalPort 107, Meralco 88

The GlobalPort Batang Pier sustained their newfound firepower, dominating the Meralco Bolts, 107-88, on Sunday to improve to a 3-3 card.

GlobalPort’s Jonathan Grey and Kelly Nabong, two former Meralco players, delivered the biggest blows against their former team. Coming off the bench, Grey, a former Meralco draft pick, led the Batang Pier with a career-high 24 points, scoring 19 of them in the second half.

Nabong blasted his former team with 17 points, eight of them in the first quarter when the Batang Pier raced to a 29-16 lead. The 6’6” Fil-American bruiser dominated the paint, grabbing 17 boards and had three blocks. Towards the end of the last season, Nabong was kicked out by Meralco management following an argument with then Bolts assistant coach Jimmy Alapag.

Sean Anthony added 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists. His jump shot with 7:129 left in the game gave GlobalPort a 94-65 lead, a 29-point bubble that was its biggest in the game.

The hot shooting of his teammates allowed GlobalPort top gunner Stanley Pringle a brief respite but still finished with 17 points, including five three-pointers, along with five rebounds and four assists.

The Batang Pier hardly missed the continued absence of their main man, Terrence Romeo, who remained on the injured list.

Reynel Hugnatan and Chris Newsome led Meralco with 17 points and six rebounds apiece while Mike Tolomia and Mac Baracael added 15 and 12 markers, respectively. The Bolts tumbled to a 2-4 mark, sending them into a tie for ninth to 11th place in the standings together with NLEX and Blackwater.

Games Wednesday: Kia Picanto (1-5) vs. TNT KaTropa Texters (3-3) and Phoenix Fuel Masters (3-3) vs. Alaska Aces (4-2).