MANILA, Philippines - With its reserves providing a big lift, Barangay Ginebra overcame a woeful first half, coming from behind to whip Alaska Milk, 90-81, in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Second-string players Enrico Villanueva, Nino Canaleta, Dylan Ababou and KG Canaleta fueled their third-quarter rally as the Kings posted the biggest comeback win by any team in the conference thus far.
Curiously, the Kings survived a pair of 17-point deficits after bungling a 16-point lead in their previous match versus the Powerade Tigers a week ago.
“Our first half was ugly. Good thing, our bench came in and gave us a big boost in the second half,” said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen as they notched a fourth win against three losses.
“We just couldn’t buy a basket in the first half. We got going as we became aggressive in the second half,” said Mark Caguioa, top scoring with 22 points coming off the bench.
Villanueva, Canaleta, Ababou and Wilson also delivered coming off the bench in the third quarter, and the Kings wiped out a 13-point, 33-46, halftime deficit, pushing the Aces deeper down the cellar at 1-7.
With their listless start, the Kings made only one field goal basket in the first seven minutes of the game and fell behind by 17 twice at 27-44 and 29-46.
The Kings, however, stayed patient and were rewarded as they started to hit their strides in the third period through their second unit.
Villanueva scored all of his conference-high 12 points in the final half, including a basket from close range allowing Ginebra to finally tie the count at 58 with 1:43 left in the third period.
Moments later, Canaleta banged in a short jumper as the Kings pulled ahead at 60-59.
The Kings pressed their drive in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 14 before clinching the crucial victory.
Avoiding what could have been a first back-to-back defeats in the tourney, the Kings instead have got another chance to score a first successive wins versus the Talk n Text Tropang Texters Sunday.
Zach Graham poured in 51 points – league best in four years -- and finally drew the needed support from his teammates as Air21 kept its flickering semifinal hopes alive with a 128-121 win over Powerade in the nightcap.
Renren Ritualo went 6-of-6 from the three-point area and totaled 22 points with Nelbert Omolon, James Sena and Mark Isip each adding at least 10 as the Express put in their highest output in a game in franchise history. - By Nelson Beltran