by Jonas Terrado

Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. — San Miguel vs Rain or Shine
(San Miguel leads series 2-0)

Game Thursday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. — Ginebra vs TNT KaTropa
(TNT leads series 2-1)

Defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel staved off elimination after surviving TNT KaTropa, 80-72, to cut its deficit to 2-1 in their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Ginebra capitalized on a pair of miscues by TNT in the fourth quarter to regain hold of the defensive-minded affair after the Kings allowed the KaTropa to take a 60-59 lead after being up for three quarters.

300719 PBA TNTvsGINEBRA S3 08 riodeluvio copy 640x478 - PBA: Kings avert sweep, down KaTropa

Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee celebrates after making a three-point shot during game 3 of their best-of-five seminfal series with TnT KaTropa. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

TNT looked like it was about to stretch the lead to three during a fastbreak play but Jayson Castro’s pass intended for import Terrence Jones was deflected by Japeth Aguilar, resulting in a Stanley Pringle three that put Ginebra back in front for good.

Jones got the rebound a few possessions later but his pass was intercepted by Aguilar, who found Brownlee open for a three-pointer that made it 65-60 with 7:48 to go in the fourth.

Those along with more sloppy plays from TNT and crucial plays the rest of the way put Ginebra a new lease on life after dropping the first two games.

Ginebra will try to make it two in a row and force a deciding fifth game when the series returns to the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday.

“We’ll we got one but one isn’t good enough,” said coach Tim Cone, who admitted how a struggle it was for Ginebra to avoid a sweep.

Held to six points in the first three quarters, Justin Brownlee hit eight in the fourth to power Ginebra to victory after being hounded all-game long by TNT’s hardworking wingman Don Trollano.

LA Tenorio scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half that saw Ginebra take a 16-5 lead at the start and 42-32 at the half, Joe Devance put up 13 points and five rebounds and Scottie Thompson 10 points and five boards.

Jones had 24 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks but TNT’s bid for a first finals appearance since the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup was denied on its first try.

Troy Rosario posted 12 points and Jayson Castro posted 10 points and seven assists as Pogoy struggled with 10 points on 1-of-6 shooting from three-point range.

Trollano would have been the unsung hero had TNT won after posting nine points and 10 rebounds with his hustle on both ends.

The KaTropa threatened for the final time when a Castro layup cut the margin to two, 74-72. Thompson answered before the Kings forced the other side to miss its final seven shots.

GINEBRA 80 — Tenorio 16, Brownlee 14, Devance 13, Thompson 10, Pringle 9, Slaughter 8, Aguilar 6, Caguioa 4.

TNT KATROPA 72 — Jones 24, Rosario 12, Pogoy 10, Castro 10, Trollano 9, Heruela 3, Washington 2, Taha 2, Reyes 0, Semerad D. 0.

Quarters: 21-14; 42-32; 57-57; 80-72.

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