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Kings frustrate undermanned Dragons to close in on crown

The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings stood their ground and repulsed the Bay Area Dragons’ late comeback using Stanley Pringle’s hot hands, pulling off a 101-91 win Sunday night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven finals’ series in the 2022-2023 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Scottie Thompson of Ginebra splits the defense of two Bay Area defenders in Game 5 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals won by the Gin Kings, 101-91, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series 

The undermanned Dragons tried to come back from 18 points in the final period, but Pringle found his range again, with two triples made inside the final two minutes putting a stop to their opponent’s last-ditch bid to catch up.

Pringle proved to be a key factor with his outside shots the whole evening as he went on to tally 20 points, including six big three-pointers.

Import Justine Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 37 points and eight boards, but was held to just seven in the last period by the Dragons, who played without injured import Andrew Nicholson again, along with another key player Glen Yang.

A left ankle injury sustained in Game 4 kept the Dragons from fielding in Yang, one of their starting point guards.

“We were certainly surprised when Glen Yang did not play. We did not know that this is going to happen until they announced the starting lineup. And even without Nicholson, they played the way they did,” said Gin Kings’ coach Tim Cone.

A total of 21,823 fans watched as the Gin Kings took a 3-2 lead in their championship showdown, and perhaps, also gained the momentum to finish their title clash on Wednesday with another victory.

The big number of spectators was the second all-time high in a PBA finals’ game at the MOA Arena, next only to the 23,616 who attended Game 7 of the San Miguel Beer-Alaska Finals in the 2016 Philippine Cup.

Japeth Aguilar finished the contest with a 12 points for the Gin Kings, who are close to winning another crown since 2018.

Ginebra moved ahead by 18 points in the third quarter, off three treys in the period, with Pringle knocking in two, including one in the 2:06 mark handing them a 76-58 spread.

But Kobey Lam made eight of his 16 points in the fourth, with his driving layup, charity, and triple in the last 4:58 allowing the Dragons to come to within 81-89.

The Dragons, headed by Hayden Blankley, who finished with 29 points, even threatened to within five at 86-91 off his two charities in the final 2:01.

But a pair of treys from Pringle in the two-minute and 1:32 marks quashed the Dragons’ efforts as the Kings stormed to a 97-86 lead.

Cone commended Brian Goorjian’s coaching of making the necessary adjustments given their situation.

“That’s really great coaching, hanging tough. It’s a tough group. When we get leads, they don’t panic,” added Cone.

The Scores:

GINEBRA 101 – Brownlee 37, Pringle 20, J.Aguilar 12, Tenorio 8, Malonzo 7, Thompson 7, Standhardinger 5, Pinto 3, Gray 2, Mariano 0

BAY AREA 91 – Blankley 29, Lam 16, Zheng 15, Liu 10, Ewing 9, Song 5, Reid 2, Ju 2,

QUARTERS: 23-24, 54-43, 76-62, 101-91

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