SMART Clark Giga City - The Barangay Ginebra Kings took their turn to bounce back strong from a woeful outing, clipping the Meralco Bolts, 91-84, to regain the lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals faceoff at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Center here Sunday.
Badly beaten, 77-95, Friday, the Kings made a big turnaround right at the get-go, pulling away early and keeping the Bolts at bay all the way to the pivotal win that sent them to the threshold of the best-of-seven finals.
With the 2-1 lead, the Kings take their first shot at series closeout in Game Four Wednesday.
Held to a personal tournament low of nine points in Game Two, Stanley Pringle returned in his lethal form, top scoring with 24 points and adding nine rebounds and six assists in a splendid all-around game.
"Our main focus was to execute," said Pringle, adding they intend to do better in the next game.
Many other Ginebra players came out with their guns locked and loaded while veteran Joe Devance played with his court smarts and leadership, much to coach Tim Cone's approval.
Cone said they really turned to Devance in this big game.
"In big moment like this, we go to Joe. It's Joe's decision making. He'll not make so many points and get many rebounds but he makes good decisions both on offense and defense," said Cone.
Devance, Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson and rookie Arvin Tolentino composed the starting unit getting the team to a strong start with a lead as big as 25.
LA Tenorio (with 12 points and four assists) and Prince Caperal (15 markers and six boards), meanwhile, led the reserve crew providing the sustaining power.
Though falling in a deep hole early, the Bolts refused to give up and had their runs that got them within single-digit deficits.
But the Kings just won't be denied, with a key play by LA Tenorio from a steal off Chris Newsome sealing the deal at 86-76 with a little over a minute left. (SB)
BARANGAY GINEBRA 91 - Pringle 24 , Caperal 15 , Aguilar 12, ,Tenorio 12 Devance 10 , Thompson 9 , Tolentino 4 , Mariano 5.
MERALCO 84 - Maliksi 23 , Almazan 16 , Hodge 13 , Newsome 12, Amer 9 , Quinto 6 , Black 3 , Hugnatan 2 , Faundo 0 , Jamito 0 , Pinto 0.
Quarters: 27-12; 45-34; 64-52; 91-84.