Justin Brownlee showed Renaldo Balkman how to play the PBA finals, and led Barangay Ginebra to a blazing start versus San Miguel Beer in their Commissioner's Cup championship series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday night.
A crowd of over 11,000 stood as witness as Brownlee and his Ginebra teammates sent San Miguel's All-Star core group down on their knees.
A two-time PBA champion import, Brownlee was in his elements, erupting for 42 points as the Kings upstaged the Beermen, 127-99, for the crucial head start in their best-of-seven title playoff.
SMB coach Leo Austria insisted in the run-up to the finals the Kings would have the edge at least in the series opener with their 10 wins in the last 11 outings.
And the Kings were only too willing to prove Austria right.
Brownlee came out smoking, and the Kings fashioned out a dominant wire-to-wire victory in a performance that spoke well of their chance against the reigning titlists.
By the start of the fourth quarter, the outcome was beyond recall, prompting the SMB bench chieftain to pull out his ace players one after another. Then Ginebra coach Tim Cone followed suit.
"That was a surprise. Everybody was surprised. It's one of those nights that we have it they don't have it. We fired on all cylinders, got on their heels early and didn't let up," said Cone.
"But we just stirred the beehive. They're gonna come back big time in Game Two. They're a veteran team. They've been to tougher games. They're gonna be more forceful in the next game," Cone added.
With a torrid shooting, the Kings turned to a walk in the park what was expected to be an explosive Game One.
So impressive was Brownlee with his perfect 5-of-5 clip from beyond the arc and 17-of-19 shooting overall. He was also perfect from the stripe, 3-of-3, and also delivered nine assists and seven rebounds in tearing up all the defenses thrown at him by San Miguel.
Balkman came up with 27 points and 13 rebounds but the rest of the Beermen played below their usual games.
Brownlee dished out an A-1 game that rubbed off on his teammates. Joe Devance contributed 20 points while Greg Slaughter, Mark Caguioa and Sol Mercado chipped in at least 10 points each.
"He seems like that all the time," said Cone of his import.
"The last time Gabe (Norwood) was guarding him. Gabe is an outstanding player with his team and all the way to Gilas. But Justin's able to put up 44. It goes to show how tough he is," Cone added.(SB)
Ginebra 127 - Brownlee 42, Devance 20, Slaughter 11, Caguioa 11, Mercado 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 7, Ferrer 7, Mariano 4, Chan 2, Cruz 2, Aguilar 2, Caperal 0, Manuel 0.
San Miguel 99 - Balkman 27, Standhardinger 26, Fajardo 13, Santos 8, Lassiter 6, Cabagnot 5, Nabong 5, Ross 4, Lanete 3, Pessumal 0.
Quarters: 35-20, 69-50, 94-75, 127-99.