SMART Clark Giga City — Barangay Ginebra wrote finish to the two-month PBA bubble play Wednesday night, taking the 2020 Philippine Cup crown in warding off the injury-decimated but fierce-fighting TNT Tropang Giga, 82-78, at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Center.
Japeth Aguilar matched his career-high (32 points), Stanley Pringle came through with a crucial binge in the payoff period while LA Tenorio once again had his brilliance in the crunch as the Kings ended a 13-year drought in the league’s most prestigious tourney.
Pushed hard by their gritty foes practically all night, the Kings were not to be denied in the end, with Pringle, Aguilar and Tenorio combining to seal the deal for the Ginebra franchise.
The Kings scored a twin-kill in 2020 as they captured the bubble glory in a follow-up to their Governors’ Cup title run completed in January.
It’s the first back-to-back for the franchise after their winning the 2004 Fiesta Conference and the succeeding Philippine Cup.
With his crucial playmaking in their victories in Games 1, 4 and 5, Tenorio earned the PBA Press Corps Honda Finals MVP award.
“Championship lang ang wish ko kay God, binigyan pa ako ng bonus,” said Tenorio.
“When this thing started, LA was in the hospital, we still don’t have Japeth and Greg (Slaughter) was out. We don’t have much expectation and we’re saying ‘can we make the playoffs?'” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“But credit to our guys. They just kept on working, working and working, and found a way to win it. I’m proud of them,” said Cone, the bemedaled coach winning a first all-Filipino crown with Ginebra.
It was the 13th overall for the Ginebra franchise and 23rd in all for Cone.
Cone and his troops acknowledged the proud stand of the Tropang Giga who wouldn’t give up even when the chips were down, especially with the sidelining of key stalwarts Bobby Ray Parks and Jayson Castro.
But in a Game 5 grind-out, the Kings proved too much, thus, closing out the series at 4-1. (SB)
GINEBRA 82 – Aguilar 32, Pringle 13, Tenorio 10, Dillinger 8, Thompson 6, Mariano 5, Devance 2, Caperal 3, Chan 3, Tolentino 0.
TNT 78 – Pogoy 23, Erram 18, Enciso 17, Rosario 12, De Leon 6, Vosotros 2, Washington 0, Montalbo 0, Reyes 0, Carey 0.
Quarters: 19-19; 38-36; 55-56; 82-78.