The much anticipated, best-of-7 finals series between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Talk N’ Text Tropang Giga is finally underway. They are two of the grittiest and most talented squads in the bubble, and it showed tonight.
The intriguing match-up had had a solid start as it featured a see-saw battle and an up-and-down scoring from both teams. In the end, though, it was Ginebra who came out on top in overtime, 100-94, to draw first blood in the series.
Let’s now discuss some takeaways from the series opener.
Ginebra had a balanced attack
With Ginebra’s bench virtually non-existent yet again, the starters put in quite the work. The group delivered a strong performance as all five scored in double figures. They combined for 90 of the team’s 100 points.
Ginebra’s off-night from deep almost cost them
Every team has tried to outgun TNT, and most have failed. Ginebra tried to do that tonight and it almost cost them a victory as they shot an ugly 5-for-23 (23%) from deep. Fortunately, they had a lot of success pounding the ball inside to cancel out the rough outside shooting.
Arvin Tolentino came out of nowhere
One of Ginebra’s utility men came out of nowhere to help give Ginebra the W. Arvin Tolentino, a second-year forward who was averaging a measly 4.5 points per game in the conference, chipped in 14 points. He also made that game-tying lay-up with less than six seconds remaining to send the game into OT.
TNT can’t guard the paint
TNT is your stereotypical “great offense, terrible defense” type of team, and it was very evident again. They allowed a whopping 60 points inside the paint, showcasing a defense that nursing home patients could’ve scored in.
Ginebra’s man in the middle, Japeth Aguilar, had a field day at TNT’s expense, pouring in 25 points and 16 rebounds. LA Tenorio, meanwhile, made a living on drives and dump-offs, and tallied a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists.
Roger Pogoy is (kinda) back
One silver lining in the Tropang Giga’s tough defeat is the re-emergence of their sharpshooter, RR Pogoy, who had 19 points. The 28-year-old was coming off an appalling semifinals series against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, where he averaged 11 points on 30.3% shooting.
Ray Parks was quiet in the fourth quarter and OT
Ray Parks has done a good job this conference, and he’s easily one of the top candidates for the Best Player of the Conference award. Sadly, though, none of that was present in the crucial stretches.
Despite finishing with a team-high 20 points, Parks fouled out and shot just 1-for-6 in the 4th quarter and OT. He also missed a key free throw with under 13 seconds remaining, which would’ve given TNT a three-point lead.
Game 2 of the Philippine Cup finals will be on Wednesday at 6:00 PM. Watch out for our game preview!