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Barangay Ginebra San Miguel unleashed a blistering attack early before showing poise in the face of a furious Talk ‘N Text rally to win Game Five of their Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series, 111-103, Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
With the win, Ginebra booked its first finals appearance since the 2011 edition of the tournament.
“I didn’t expect that we’ll be in the championship,” said Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua, who rebounded from an 0-4 start to the tournament to make a Cinderella run to the finals as a seventh seed. They will face top-ranked Alaska in the championship round.
“It’s a God-given gift, daming injuries, pero nakarating kami dito.”
Buoyed by a boisterous crowd of 21,408 cheering lustily for them from the opening tip, the Gin Kings built a 20-point halftime lead, 61-41, against the shorthanded Tropang Texters.
But Talk ‘N Text, which was playing without star forward Ranidel De Ocampo in addition to injured stalwarts Kelly Williams and Jared Dillinger, did not give up. The Tropang Texters cut the lead to just 11 points at the end of the third period, and came within striking distance in the final quarter.
“Tinitingnan ko, kinakabahan ako,” said Chua. “Pero yung mga players, wala lang.”
LA Tenorio led Ginebra with 28 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to keep Talk ‘N Text at bay.
“The kid showed something that, pwede talaga siyang mag-[Best Player of the Conference,” said Chua.
Import Vernon Macklin, whose arrival in the tournament turned Ginebra’s fortunes around, added 22 points and 20 rebounds, while Mac Baracael had 21 points.
Against Alaska in the finals, Chua knows the going will get even tougher.
“Alaska is very complete, from wing to point to big man,” said Chua, who added that he won’t be thinking of the championship round just yet.
“Enjoy-in ko muna ‘to kahit isang araw.”
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