Fans braved heavy traffic and came it droves to celebrate Christmas at the SM MOA Arena in Pasay City and went home with smiles on their faces as Brgy. Ginebra pulled off a convincing 15-point win over Bay Area, 96-81, in Game 1 of the PBA Season 47 Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven championship series.
The Gin Kings unleased a crippling 15-0 run in the second quarter anchored on the trio of Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio and Christian Standhardinger to take control of the match and draw first blood in the highly-anticipated finals affair.
Brownlee, soon to be a naturalized player for the Philippine national basketball team, led the charge for the crowd darlings with 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 from the 15-foot line to go with 13 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block in 42 minutes of play.
“Obviously today’s game, it doesn’t win us a championship, it doesn’t lose a championship for Bay Area, but the bottomline is, we got the first step forward so that was the crucial part,” said Brgy. Ginebra head coach Tim Cone during the post-game press conference.
“Playing in the Finals, playing on Christmas Day is a little overwhelming. Playing in the Finals is a little overwhelming. You add the two together, it makes for a lot of anxiety coming into a game like this and playing it,” added the league’s winningest mentor who is gunning for his 25th title.
“It is a special moment. People are either coming with their families or coming from their thing to watch us. They’re here to watch, not just us, but they’re here to watch the Philippines play. I think that makes it extra special.”
Tenorio, chosen as the game’s Best Player, finished with a conference-best 22 points highlighted by 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Standhardinger added a double-double of 16 points and 10 boards while Scottie Thompson contributed 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and 2 rejections. The reigning MVP, however, also committed a game-high 6 turnovers.
Game 2 is set on Wednesday, December 28, 5:45pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Brgy. Ginebra 96 – Brownlee 28, Tenorio 22, Standhardinger 16, Thompson 14, J.Aguilar 6, Pringle 5, Malonzo 3, Gray 2, Pessumal 0, R.Aguilar 0, Mariano 0.
Bay Area 81 – Nicholson 27 Yang 12, Zhu 12, Lam 11, Ju 6, Song 5, Blankley 4, Liu 2, Zheng 2, Reid 0.
Quarterscores: 22-25, 45-40, 72-64, 96-81.