ANGELES CITY - The NLEX Road Warriors enjoyed one of their hot-shooting nights. The Barangay Ginebra Kings stayed patient and waited for their rivals to start missing before making their own attack.
Rain or Shine salvages No. 2 if both TNT and Ginebra drop a game.
The Kings seized control just in time, carving out a 105-96 victory in this Petron Blaze Saturday Special here to formalize entry in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
Proud Kapampangan Japeth Aguilar, from the nearby Sasmuan town, exploded for 27 points and Scottie Thompson and Aljon Mariano had key plays at the finish as the Kings chalked up the crucial victory that also kept the team in the running for No. 2 spot in the elims.
Rain or Shine remains in the lead for the fight for No. 2 spot at 8-3, but TNT KaTropa is now right behind at 7-3, then Ginebra at 6-3.
If all teams finish at 8-3, the Kings take the coveted berth by virtue of a superior quotient. If only ROS and TNT end up tied, the KaTropa prevail in the tiebreak on winner-over-the-other rule.
Back in the Angeles City tiff at the AUF Sports Center, the Kings came through with a crucial salvo at endgame to trip the Road Warriors and sent them on the brink at 4-6.
The Road Warriors need to win their last game against the Magnolia Hotshots to get a playoff crack at the last quarters berth.
Aguilar, Thompson, Mariano and LA Tenorio joined forces as the Kings beat the Road Warriors at endgame, negating NLEX's 18 three-pointers and an early 18-point advantage in the game.
The Road Warriors pulled away early as they bombed away eight treys right in the opening quarter. They took the half at 51-46 on 12-of-23 three-pointers.
But the Kings caught up in the third, seized control towards the end and hung on to win the match.
The game was still close with the Kings ahead by just two at 94-92 when Thompson pulled a steal off JR Quinahan and set up Mariano for a key basket that touched off an 11-4 closing run for Ginebra.
Aguilar snared nine rebounds on top of 27 points on 10-of-18 field clip and 7-of-12 charities. Tenorio added 17 markers while Thompson, Greg Slaughter and Kevin Ferrer chipped 14 apiece.
Going down the drain were the three-pointers made by JR Quinahan (5-of-7), Poy Erram (3-of-6), Philip Paniamogan (2-of-4), Mark Tallo (2-of-3), Kyles Lao (1-of-1), Raul Soyud (1-of-1), Mike Magat (1-of-2), Kenneth Ighalo (1-of-4), Asi Taulava (1-of-4) and Juami Tiongson (1-of-5). (SB)
Ginebra 105 - Aguilar 27, Tenorio 17, Thompson 14, Ferrer 14, Slaughter 14, Chan 7, Dela Cruz 7, Mariano 4, Mercado 1, Caperal 0.
NLEX 96 - Erram 16, Quinahan 15, Tiongson 12, Galanza 12, Paniamogan 8, Ighalo 8, Tallo 8, Magat 6, Lao 5, Soyud 3, Taulava 3, Baguio 0.
Quarters: 30-19, 51-46, 72-74, 96-105.