Pringle shines as Gin Kings slip past Bolts in Semis opener

Stanley Pringle and Ralph Cu came up clutch in the final quarter, leading Brgy. Ginebra to a thrilling 92-88 victory over Meralco in Game 1 of their PBA 48th Season Philippine Cup semifinal showdown at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Pringle put up an impressive 22 points, while Cu added 18 points, propelling the Gin Kings to take the first game in the best-of-seven series.

Pringle’s crucial three-pointer and follow-up shot at the 3:50-mark of the fourth quarter pushed Ginebra ahead 83-78. Despite a quick response from the Bolts with six straight points, Cu stepped up with a pivotal three-pointer at 2:20, extending Ginebra’s lead to 86-79.

Pringle sealed the deal with a smooth floater, giving Ginebra a 92-86 advantage with just 40.1 seconds remaining on the clock.

Game Two is set to take place on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Coach Tim Cone downplayed the significance of the win, anticipating a tough and lengthy series against their perennial playoff rivals.

“The bottom line is it’s Game One. It’s a long series. It’s a lot of games ahead of us. It’s just nice to get the first one out of the way, as it always is in a series,” said Cone.

“You want to get that one and you put the other team on a reactive basis. But the bottom line is it’s just one game. We’ve got a lot of games to play,” he added.

Japeth Aguilar contributed 17 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks, Maverick Ahanmisi added 15 points and six rebounds, and Christian Standhardinger recorded 14 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists for the Gin Kings, claiming their first victory of the conference against the Bolts.

Despite only scoring five points, Scottie Thompson’s buzzer-beating three at the end of the third quarter gave Ginebra a comfortable 73-61 lead heading into the final quarter, completing a turnaround after trailing by one, 41-40, at halftime.

Cu’s three-pointer stretched the lead to 76-63, marking the largest lead of Game One.

Chris Newsome led the charge for the Bolts with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Chris Banchero contributed 15 points and eight assists.

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