By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings regained the upper hand in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup finals series with the Meralco Bolts, two games to one, after taking Game Three, 92-84, on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Stanley Pringle led a ferocious run in the third quarter by the Kings to create a considerable distance from which the Bolts could not recover from, handing Barangay Ginebra the win that left it just two victories away from claiming the title in the season-ending PBA tournament.
The match was tightly fought in the opening half, with the Kings up by only a point, 43-42, at the break.
In the third quarter, Barangay Ginebra started to blow the game open.
It open the frame with a 10-0 run as Mr. Pringle started to find his mark, helping his team to a 53-42 lead with 9:43 to go.
The Kings stretched their lead to 21 points, 76-55, with a minute left before settling for a 78-68 advantage heading into the fourth.
But Meralco would not go down without a fight.
Led by rookie Trevis Jackson and import Allen Durham, the Bolts tried to rally back.
They would come to within five points, 87-82, with 2:04 to go but a triple but LA Tenorio at the 1:47 mark gave the Kings more breathing space, 90-82.
A deuce by Chris Newsome 11 seconds later pushed Meralco to within six points, 90-84, but they would not get any closer than that as a basket by Japeth Aguilar with 30 seconds left put the game away for Barangay Ginebra.
Import Justin Brownlee led the Kings in the win with 24 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Mr. Aguilar had 23 points and seven blocks to win player of the game honors.
Mr. Pringle finished with 21 points, 17 coming from their telling third-quarter run. Mr. Tenorio had 11 markers.
For the Bolts, it was Mr. Newsome who top-scored with 24 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Mr. Durham had 23 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists while Bryan Faundo came off the bench to fire off 10 points.
Big man Raymond Almazan finished with two points and two rebounds before leaving the game midway into the opening quarter from an apparent knee injury.
He was set to undergo an MRI later last night with his status in future games in the series still to be known.
Game Four of the finals is on Wednesday, Jan. 15, also at the Big Dome.