Mendoza: Brownlee key but Standhardinger stood out

·2 min read

Barangay Ginebra appeared ready to lose on April 22. A loss to Meralco would have made the fight-for-four Finals even-steven at 3-3 in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

A loss could have infuriated the thousands of Gin King die-hards from the record 20,000-plus crowd that jam packed the MOA Arena in Pasay City. And, yes, a loss would have hijacked the deciding Game 7 to the Philippine Arena in faraway Bocaue, Bulacan.

The planned Bulacan battle raised eyebrows as it could inconvenience the PBA’s flock, considering the long trip going there—traffic and all.

But why is that? Why the radical gear-change?

But to cut to the chase, why the supposed Game 6 debacle for Ginebra?

Because fiery import Justin Brownlee, Ginebra’s cornerstone for the longest time, scored only two points in the entire first half.

That, sure, was a pure recipe for disaster. But, seemingly, Brownlee was into a chess game.

He wasn’t producing points because he saw that Ginebra wasn’t really in deep trouble as Meralco wasn’t making any headway. Pacing.

He was just content watching his teammates being engaged in a nip-and-tuck affair, the Gin Kings never allowing the Bolts to exploit Brownlee’s diet of scarce shot-making. Pacing.

Brownlee was actually overjoyed by teammate Christian Standhardinger’s stellar performance again, the 6-foot-8 Fil-German mightily dishing off an early double-double in powering Ginebra to a 47-all deadlock at the half.

Brownlee took charge in the third frame, unloading 17 points in a team up with Scottie Thompson, who shone anew and had 15 points and three steals and was named Finals MVP.

Brownlee fired 25 points. His 16 rebounds was just 3 better than the 13 boards of Standhardinger, whose 19 points helped elevate LA Tenorio’s conference-high 30 points capped by back-to-back triples that gave Ginebra a safe 101-88 bulge en route to the Kings’ 103-92 title-clinching victory.

It was Cone’s 24th trophy and Ginebra’s 10th crown, capping the Kings’ fourth Govs’ Cup medal in the last five years.

But, hey, wait a second. Was Cone not worried by Brownlee’s two-point showing in the first half?

Not at all.

After the game, Cone said: “Meralco and Ginebra are basically the same. The only difference is we have Justin Brownlee.”

And a Standhardinger, who manned the fort when Brownlee was playing chess.

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