Ginebra draws first blood in PBA Governor’s Cup finals

Justin Brownlee was all business in Game 1 of the PBA finals (PBA photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel prevailed over the tough TNT Tropang Giga, 102-90, in Game 1 of the PBA Governor’s Cup finals last April 9, 2023, held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Leading the charge for the Gin Kings is resident super import Justin Brownlee who kicked off the grand finals with a 31-point performance alongside 12 rebounds.

It was Brownlee who set the tone for Ginebra after immediately firing 17 big points in the first 12 minutes of action built from four-straight shots made from the three-point area.

Brownlee’s scoring frenzy then opened up a double-digit lead in the second frame but TNT’s Calvin Oftana willed the Tropang Giga back after scoring 11 straight points.

After Oftana’s scoring avalanche, TNT then came alive when Mikey Williams finally found his offensive rhythm, pulling up from downtown at will while hitting his signature reverse layups against the outstretched arms of Christian Standhardinger and Jamie Malonzo.

Just when the Tropang Giga thought they could re-assert their dominance in the third quarter, the trio of Brownlee, Standhardinger, and Malonzo spearheaded Ginebra’s rally that extended their lead again to double-digits.

To make matters worse for the Tropang Giga, Poy Erram, their star center, got frustrated with several non-calls and exited the game early with back-to-back useless fouls in the 9:51 mark of the final canto.

TNT already lost the services of their starting center Justin Chua in the first half in what might be an apparent sprained injury.

Chua started the ball game waxing hot after quickly draining his attempt from downtown off a Jefferson assist but fell down the next play and was seen grabbing his knee.

It was then all Ginebra in the fourth quarter as TNT failed to trim their deficit to as low as five points despite Williams’ personal scoring display.

Backstopping Brownlee is Malonzo who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds while reigning MVP Scottie Thompson recorded a triple-double performance of 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.

“I was not 100 % sure if we were going to play well tonight, but the guys came out and they came out really fired up to start the game and it set a good tone in the beginning of the game,” said Gienbra head coach Tim Cone.

The Tropang Giga will look to bounce back and equalize the seven-game championship series at 1-1 on April 12, 2023, at 5:45 PM, still at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.