By Adrian Stewart Co
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings drew first blood in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals after a 96-69 Game 1 domination over Meralco Bolts on Wednesday night at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Pampanga.
Stanley Pringle top-scored with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds. Earl Scottie Thompson flirted with triple-double with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Kings.
Rookie Arvin Tolentino contributed 13 points, LA Tenorio and Aljon Mariano chipped in 11 points each, while Prince Caperal also ended up with double-figures with 10 for Barangay Ginebra.
Clinging to a slim 21-17 advantage, Barangay Ginebra created separation from Meralco in the second quarter with baskets from Pringe, Thompson and Aguilar for a 48-36 halftime edge.
The Kings increased the advantage to 56-39 on a triple by Tolentino but the Bolts rallied to within 50-60 before Barangay Ginebra pulled away at 71-54 on shots from Tenorio and Thompson.
Conversions from Tenorio, Caperal and Pringle to start the final quarter gave Barangay Ginebra its largest lead at 90-65. Meralco trimmed the deficit but could only come to as close as 16.
Allein Maliksi ended up with 25 points, on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the three-point line, while Chris Newsome struggled with just 13 markers for the Bolts.
GINEBRA 96 – Pringle 19, Thompson 13, Tolentino 13, Tenorio 11, Mariano 11, Caperal 10, J. Aguilar 9, Dillinger 4, Devance 2, Dela Cruz 2, Balanza 2, Chan 0, Salado 0, R. Aguilar 0.
MERALCO 79 – Maliksi 25, Newsome 13, Hugnatan 9, Black 8, Pinto 6, Hodge 4, Jamito 4, Almazan 3, Amer 2, Quinto 2, Faundo 2, Salva 2, Jackson 0, Caram 0.
Quarterscores: 21-17, 48-36, 71-54, 96-79./ASC, WDJ