Brgy. Ginebra proved too hot to handle even for top-seeded TNT as the Gin Kings ran away with Game 1, 102-90, in the best-of-seven championship series Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Gin Kings, showing no rust at all despite coming off an extended 11-day break, led from start to finish and established their biggest margin of 18 in the 7:18 mark of the payoff period. They cruised the rest of the way and moved 3 wins closer to a successful title defense.
Justin Brownlee paced the defending champs with 31 points in 42 minutes of action. The naturalized Filipino shot 11-of-20 from the field including 6-of-11 from 3-point country and 3-of-5 from the stripe. He also finished with 12 boards, 4 assists and 2 blocks.
“To be totally honest, we don’t know if we did a good job of preparing for this game. I was questioning myself. I was questioning whether we should take Good Friday off. I was questioning whether if we’ve taken too much time or we didn’t work hard enough. There was a lot of questions,” said Brgy. Ginebra head coach Tim Cone during the post-game presser.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure if we are going to play good tonight. But the guys came out all fired up, I thought, and set a good tone in the beginning of the game. I was kinda surprised to be honest with you,” added the legendary mentor who is gunning for his 26th PBA crown.
Jamie Malonzo added 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal while Christian Standhardinger had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Stanley Pringle scored 11 while reigning league MVP Scottie Thompson submitted a triple-double performance of 10 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
The Gin Kings will try to make it 2-0 when they clash anew on Wednesday, April 12, 5:45pm also at the Big Dome.
Brgy. Ginebra 102 – Brownlee 31, Malonzo 21, Standhardinger 16, Pringle 11, Thompson 10, Gray 6, Mariano 5, Pinto 2, David 0, Onwubere 0.
TNT 90 – Hollis-Jefferson 30, M. Williams 23, Oftana 16, Pogoy 6, Erram 4, Castro 4, Chua 3, Khobuntin 3, Montalbo 2, Varilla 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarterscores: 29-20, 50-43, 74-62, 102-90.