Barangay Ginebra San Miguel got a huge lift from its supporting cast and defeated NLEX 102-92 Sunday night to wrap up the first doubleheader of the PBA Philippine Cup restart at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Aljon Mariano tied his career-high with 20 points while six others scored in double figures for the Kings to open their quest to claim the All-Filipino crown with a victory despite the rust factor endured by stars LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar.
Tenorio scored just one point in 12 minutes after extending his record consecutive games streak to 642 despite undergoing an appendectomy two weeks ago.
Aguilar, who like Tenorio arrived just days before the PBA restart, had seven points in 21 minutes.
With both players understandably far from their usual form, coach Tim Cone’s role players were able to do the job for Ginebra.
Mariano also had five rebounds and four assists, Scottie Thompson put up 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists and backup center Prince Caperal scored 11 in a starting role.
Even veterans Jared Dillinger and Joe Devance, injury-riddled for the last few seasons, provided the spark for the Kings by posting 12 and 11 points, even as Stanley Pringle put up 12 and Jeff Chan adding 11.
Ginebra’s defense also limited the production of NLEX star Kiefer Ravena, who was held to just six points on 2-of-8 shooting.
The Kings dominated the third quarter to gain their biggest lead at 16 points 75-59.
But the Road Warriors went on a run led by Kevin Alas to pull within 85-82 on a three-pointer by new addition Tony Semerad with 9:19 to go in the payoff period.
Ginebra, though, held NLEX scoreless for the next five minutes while Mariano scored seven in a 10-0 run to make it 95-82.
Alas produced 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in a performance that should give him confidence after tearing his ACL twice the past two seasons.
JR Quinahan topscored for the Road Warriors with 26 points but was ejected in the third due to a technical foul. Quinahan was earlier given a Flagrant Foul 1.
GINEBRA 102 — Mariano 20, Thompson 12, Pringle 12, Dillinger 12, Devance 11, Caperal 11, Chan 11, Aguilar J. 7, Tolentino 5, Tenorio 1, Balanza 0, Aguilar R. 0.
NLEX 92 — Quinahan 26, Alas 16, Porter 9, Soyud 7, Ravena 6, Semerad 5, Miranda 4, Galanza 3, Ighalo 3, Ayonayon 2, Paniamogan 0.
Quarters: 31-22, 48-48, 83-75, 102-92.