JUSTIN Brownlee would not let Barangay Ginebra just fade quietly into the night.
All because, according to coach Tim Cone, of the franchise's fabled never-say-die spirit.
Brownlee notched a new career-high 46 points in leading the Kings to a breakthrough 107-103 victory over Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok Wednesday that at extended their PBA Governors Cup semifinal duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The explosion, which came on top of 19 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots, was complemented by LA Tenorio coming alive in the fourth quarter and Joe Devance returning from injury and helping out in a big way.
As a result, Ginebra managed to overcome an early 18-point deficit and survive what is arguably the closest game in the match-up yet.
The Kings still trail the best-of-five duel 1-2, but seemingly got the momentum shift as the series moves to the Ynares center in Antipolo City for Game 4 on Friday.
"We weren't playing well at all, we were a little bit gigil," said Cone of his team's plays in the first half which had it trailing by 42-58.
"We certainly didn't invent the NSD (never-say-die)... but we're proud to represent the NSD. At halftime it looked like we weren't going to be able to live up to it. Somehow we did. You've gotta give the players an incredible amount of credit."
It didn't hurt the defending champions at all that Romeo Travis was not his usual fiery self after suffering a leg bruise early, finishing with just 12 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Lee also struggled mightily from the field, finishing with 17 points but only on 6-for-17 shooting.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero even got automatically tossed for throwing the ball at a referee, still 5:08 left. Tenorio sank the technical charity to make it a 100-89 game.
But Magnolia itself flashed its own irrepressible version, uncorking a surge that was highlighted by Travis' last six points and a triple each by Jio Jalalon and Lee that pushed the Hotshots back on top 103-101.
But Scottie Thompson scored on a layup and, following a passing error by Lee, Tenorio on a floater to give Ginebra back the lead, which held after Lee misfired on a desperate triple try.
Tenorio then capped his 14-point game with a freebie that sealed scoring, only six-tenths of a second left.
With both Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter either plagued by foul trouble or unable to find any rhythm, Scottie Thompson became Brownlee's main backup with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Aguilar added 11 points while Devance, who Cone said would not be playing if not for their 0-2 hole, wound up with eight rebounds, four boards and five dimes.
Mark Barroca, whose 12 second quarter points propped Magnolia's surge to as much as a 58-40 spread and even drained a buzzer-beating triple to give his team an 81-79 count at the end of the third period, led the Hotshots with 19 points.
Ian Sangalang had his own double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, but visibly dampening Magnolia's chances were the three fouls committed by Rome dela Rosa, Brownlee's main defender, not even five minutes into the game.
Ginebra 107 - Brownlee 46, Thompson 15, Tenorio 14, Aguilar 11, Devance 8, Chan 5, Mercado 3, Slaughter 3, Caperal 0, Ferrer 0.
Magnolia 103 - Barroca 19, Lee 17, Sangalang 16, Travis 12, Jalalon 10, Brondial 10, Dela Rosa 8, Simon 5, Melton 3, Reavis 3, Herndon 0, Gamalinda 0.
Quarters: 23-22, 41-58, 79-81, 107-103