Kings draw even after two games

February 26, 2017

LUCENA – Blowing away a 26-point bubble and falling behind entering the home stretch, the Barangay Ginebra Kings had looked goners.

But Joe Devance scored in the nick of time to force overtime and the Gin Kings found a way to deny the San Miguel Beermen from moving within two wins of a PBA Philippine Cup three-peat.

To the delight of majority of the full-house crowd at the Quezon Convention Center here, the Kings didn’t run out of heroes in the extra period as they smothered the Beermen, 124-118, to draw even after two games of the best-of-seven finale.

They break the tie in Game Three at 7p.m. Wednesday over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Devance, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Sol Mercado stood out as the Kings outlasted the Beermen in long, gripping battle.

It was actually one for the books, a hard grind marked by bizarre twists of fates in the closing minutes of regulations.

In the final 3.2 seconds, Devance was blocked by Arwind Santos but he recovered the ball and converted a shot at the buzzer.

Devance then joined forces with Thompson, Aguilar, Mercado and Kevin Ferrer as they pummeled the Beermen, 14-8, in OT to salvage the win.

But the Kings needed great determination to pull it off despite the early exit of key SMB players June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter.
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Minus the two, the Beermen came a heartbeat from carving out the biggest come-from-behind win in a final game.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

From a 118-all deadlock, Aguilar, Thompson and Mercado teamed up for a winning 6-0 closing run for the Kings.

Thompson established a new personal career high of 18 rebounds and also came through with 18 points and eight assists in a near triple-double performance.

Aguilar piled up 23 points and 12 rebounds, Ferrer fired 21 points in an explosive off-the-bench job while Devance, and Mercado combined for 27 markers, 14 boards and 10 dish-outs as the Kings bounced back from their 82-109 blowout loss in Game One.

Ferrer exploded with a career-best quarter output of 18 points as he starred in their scorching second-quarter rampage that gave them a 67-43 bubble at the half.

But Lassiter exploded for 16 of his 21 points in the third quarter, leading the Beermen’s stunning comeback from 26 down before heading to the exit on a technical foul for a taunting act on Mercado. Earlier, he was called a flagrant foul on Ferrer.

Lassiter had made 5-of-10 three-pointers and was SMB’s leading scorer by the time he left the game.

Meanwhile, Fajardo fouled out with over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But SMB second-stringers Ronald Tubid and Gabby Espinas helped pick up the slack, and the Beermen went on to drag the Kings in a long, hard, agonizing battle.

Two free throws by Aguilar then a layup by Thompson on a defensive breakdown by the Beermen enabled the Kings to finally ease the pressure at 122-118.