Brownlee explodes for 44 points as Gin Kings near PBA Finals

Brownlee explodes for 44 points as Gin Kings near PBA Finals

Barangay Ginebra's Justin Brownlee shoots over Rain or Shine defenders in Game 3 of the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena, Saturday night.PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines — Justin Brownlee erupted for 44 points to help Barangay Ginebra deny a fightback from Rain or Shine, 75-72, and push the Gin Kings at the brink of securing a Finals berth in Game Three of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semis, Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Brownlee, Ginebra’s beloved import, clicked on all cylinders. His nearly unconscious shooting saw the Gin Kings erect a 25-point advantage in the first half.

Not only did Brownlee register a 14-for-20 shooting from, but he also had 15 rebounds and six assists.

But head coach Tim Cone would rather look at the lapses made by his side before reveling in the fact that they’re ahead in the best-of-five duel two games to one.

“We played on our heels playing not to lose in the second half rather than staying aggressive and playing to win,” he said.

“A couple of times, we took aggressive shots and missed them. And then from there, we got tentative,” Cone said of the near-meltdown.

“And our focus got on the fact that we’re missing shots rather than our defense anymore. And our defense was tremendous in that first half — just absolutely tremendous,” he explained. “But our offense was equally as not tremendous in the second half.”

Beau Belga and Reggie Johnson teamed up for a last-ditch effort to help the Painters pull the rug on the Gin Kings by trimming it to just two points.

Veteran James Yap handled the leather in the dying seconds to try to send the game to overtime, but Scottie Thompson’s defense bothered two of his looks from deep.

Johnson paced Rain or Shine with 22 rebounds and 13 points.

Raymond Almazan and Ed Daquioag got their in the second half, tallying 12 and 11 points, respectively.

But the 23 first half points of Rain or Shine — their second lowest production in franchise history — came to hound them as they tried to mount a comeback that didn’t go full circle.

Ginebra can arrest a five-year Commissioner’s Cup Finals drought when they face Rain or Shine anew Monday next week.

But Cone is not leaving anything to chance.

“I keep saying it: There’s an absolute reason why they’re No. 1 seed,” he said. “Looking at that, we’re happy to be up 2-1. We know how good they are, we’re gonna have a big battle.”

The scores:
Ginebra 75 - Brownlee 44, Tenorio 13, Slaughter 8, Ferrer 3, Chan 3, Devance 2, J. Aguilar 2, Thompson 0, Caguioa 0, Cruz 0, Mercado 0.
Rain or Shine 72 - Johnson 13, Almazan 12, Daquioag 11, Yap 9, Tiu 6, Belga 6, Nambatac 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 2, Washington 2, Borboran 0, Ponferda 0, Torres 0.
Quarters: 24-10, 46-23, 61-41, 75-72.