By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
APART from team effort, experience in big games has been paying dividends for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings as they make their final assault on the PBA Philippine Cup title.
Now up 3-1 in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All-Filipino Cup title series after winning Game Four, 98-88, on Sunday, the Kings said they are thankful to have experienced players who could get the job done amid a tough challenge from a talented crew like the TNT Tropang Giga.
“You can’t count out experience in the playoffs,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone following their Game Four victory.
And experience in the form of the likes of LA Tenorio, Joe Devance and Jared Dillinger proved vital for the Kings as they fended off the Tropang Giga in booking the victory that thrust them on the cusp of winning the Philippine Cup title.
Veteran guard Tenorio, in particular, was clutch for his team, making big three point shots down the stretch to continuously frustrate TNT in its attempts to swing the tide in its favor.
With the Tropang Giga inching closer to the Kings with less than three minutes to play, Mr. Tenorio hit two “cold-blooded” triples to help his team create separation from which it built on to close out the game.
“He (Tenorio) was really calm under pressure. RR Pogoy [of TNT] was making incredible shots and they’re getting pumped up. It’s hard to respond but that’s what LA did,” said Mr. Cone of his floor general, who finished with 22 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Messrs. Devance and Dillinger started for the Kings in Game Four and made their presence felt in being stabilizers for the team all throughout the contest.
Mr. Devance finished with a near double-double of eight points, 10 rebounds and four assists while Mr. Dillinger had seven points apart from the intangibles he brought to their cause.
“We had a definitive game plan for our veterans and they delivered,” Mr. Cone said.
Also stepping up for the team in the win was Japeth Agular and Scottie Thompson, key cogs in the Kings’ championship quests in the last few years.
Mr. Aguilar also had 22 points, to go along with nine boards and two blocks, with Mr. Thompson narrowly missing a triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Stanley Pringle, meanwhile, had 16 points for Barangay Ginebra.
Now in a position to close things out in their next game, Mr. Cone expressed hope that experience will be there for them anew and they continue to play well.
“I felt we played our best game of the whole bubble tonight. We hit big shots all night and we made defensive plays. I hope we can carry it over for Wednesday,” he said.