Ginebra wins nail-biter over Petron

(Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
5:15 p.m. – Meralco vs. TNT
7:35 p.m. – B-Meg vs. Petron
Groping for form in the first 24 minutes, the Barangay Ginebra Kings were approached by Robert “Sonny” Jaworski heading into the second half.

And whatever Jaworski conveyed to the Gin Kings, it worked wonders Sunday night.

Import Cedric Bozeman converted a game-clinching floater with three-tenths of a second left as Barangay Ginebra escaped with a thrilling 87-85 come-from-behind victory over Petron Blaze to bolster its title chances in the PBA Governors Cup before a mammoth Smart-Araneta Coliseum crowd.

It was the Gin Kings’ second straight win in the carry-over semis format and seventh overall in 11 games that pushed them to solo third behind idle B-Meg (7-3) and Rain or Shine (9-2).

Bozeman labored for 13 points, 10 boards and four assists but had the last laugh by scoring the game’s biggest basket to cap a magnificent day for the Ginebra faithful, who were already pumped up by the formal jersey retirement of Jaworski before the game.

“I struggled all game long but my teammates kept believing in me,” noted Bozeman.

Mark Caguioa, groomed as the heir apparent to Jaworski’s throne, topscored with 25 points to go with six boards and as many assists while Dylan Ababou fired eight of his 13 markers in the fourth canto and Rico Maierhofer had 10.

“It kind inspired us,” stressed Caguioa of Jaworski’s halftime pep talk that clearly jolted the Gin Kings back to their senses. “I wanna dedicate this game to him.”

It’s really a blessing and a privilege to be a part of this team,” beamed Ginebra coach Siot Tanquincen, whose charges were coming off a masterful 89-76 win over Meralco last Friday. “Great players make great plays and I’m blessed by God to be part of this team. The play was for Mark, but he was being defended by their import. Adlib lang nabasa ng mga players.”
With the presence of Jaworski, the Gin Kings truly lived up to their “never-say-die spirit.”

“God couldn’t have written it better on a night that we’re celebrating the foundation of Ginebra to show a never die spirit. I think that’s the best send off retirement gift we could give him (Jaworski),” added Tanquincen.

Marcus Faison collected 19 points and Chris Lutz scattered 17 while Jay Washington and Dondon Hontiveros added 11 apiece for the Boosters, who failed to repeat another late-game trick and eventually fell to fourth spot with a 6-5 record.

After a one-sided affair in the first half where Petron enjoyed an 11-point lead and a 42-34 spread into the dugout, Ginebra uncorked a sizzling third quarter charge, forcing a 57-deadlock off Kerby Raymundo’s split.

Hontiveros then scored eight of the Boosters’ 12 points to restore order, giving Petron a 69-58 spread into the fourth.

The action turned physical as both teams tried to assert their dominance. A split by Bozeman tied the score at 82 apeice before Arwind Santos’ converted only a free throw for an 83-82 lead with 1:01 left.

Maierhofer bungled his two charities but Ababou outrebounded Santos, turning an offensive board to a completed three-point play that pushed the Gin Kings up 85-83 with 24.3 ticks remaining.

Off a timeout, Cabagnot drove past Willy Wilson and sank a right-handed lay-up to tie the game but Bozeman had other things in mind.

Wisely using a screen by Raymundo, Bozeman eluded Lutz, drove strong to his right and leaned in for a game-winning floater as the pro Ginebra crowd of 15,000 erupted with 0.3 of a second left.

Earlier, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bucked the ejection of coach Yeng Guiao to hack out a 99-86 win over the Bolts.

Jamelle Cornely had 21 points while rookie Paul Lee had 16 for the Rain or Shine, who strengthened its chances of making its first-ever finals stint.

Mario West’s 33 points led the Bolts, who dropped to 4-7 and virtually out of finals contention.
The scores:
First Game
RAIN OR SHINE 99 – Cornley 21, Lee 16, Buenafe 10, Belga 8, Chan 8, Ibanes 8, Norwood 7, Arana 7, Quinahan 6, Cruz 5, Rodriguez 3.
MERALCO 86 – West 33, Cardona 19, Ross 15, Reyes 11, Hugnatan 4, Bulawan 2, Mercado 2, Macapagal 0, Taulava 0.
Quarterscores: 26-13; 45-44; 68-71; 99-86.
Second Game
GINEBRA 87 – Caguioa 25, Bozeman 13, Ababou 13, Maierhofer 10, Villanueva 8, Raymundo 8, Helterbrand 4, Cortez 3, Hatfield 3, Maliksi 0, Wilson W. 0, Mamaril 0.
PETRON 85 – Faison 19, Lutz 17, Washington 11, Hontiveros 11, Santos 9, Yeo 6, Cabagnot 6, Pena 4, Miranda 2, Reyes 0, Ildefonso 0.
Quarters: 15-26, 34-42, 58-69, 87-85


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