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Gin Kings make finals return

With or without Christian Standhardinger, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel was still able to get the job done.

Standhardinger got ejected just six minutes into the first period, but it hardly mattered as the rest of the Kings stepped up to book a 99-84 victory over Magnolia in Game 4, to become the first squad to advance to the finals of Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Kings banked on their more conditioned, deeper roster in outplaying the Hotshots to wrap up their best-of-five semifinal series, 3-1.

Veteran guard LA Tenorio pulled off yet another vintage performance in his most favorite moment – the playoffs – while the rest of the Kings unloaded a balance production to offset the absence of Standhardinger in the shaded lanes.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German banger was thrown out of the game after being slapped with a flagrant foul penalty 2 for throwing the ball at Magnolia import Nick Rakocevic.

Standhardinger and Rakocevic have been locking horns since the start of the series.

In Game 1, it was Rakocevic who got tossed after incurring a technical foul and a flagrant foul penalty 1 for tripping Standhardinger in a dead-ball situation.

Still, Tenorio and the Kings were business as usual.

After moving up to third spot of the all-time best three-point shooters list, Tenorio had become more offensive-minded, hitting 4-of-8 three-pointers on his way to ending up with 18 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Scottie Thompson, import Justin Brownlee, Japeth Aguilar and new recruits Jamie Malonzo and Jeremiah Gray also did their share, offensively, defensively and even providing a lot of energy that sent the Kings to the championship against the winner in the other semifinal pairing between Bay Area and San Miguel Beer.

Brownlee, who won five championships in six tours of duty with the Kings, will take another crack at the league record books as he hopes to join Sean Chambers as the import with the most number of championships in Asia’s pioneering professional basketball league.

For the Hotshots, it was another case of a strong start and another disappointing finish — all because of injuries.

Paul Led showed up still feeling the effects of a flu-like symptoms, Jio Jalalon left the game, holding on to his waist area in the first half, Ian Sangalang had a bad landing and fell onto teammate Rome dela Rosa during a rebound play and hurt his left ankle and calf in the fourth period.

With a banged-up roster, Magnolia just couldn’t match up with a healthier, more explosive Ginebra side.

“Giving me and the rest of the team the confidence boost was a big deal” said Tenorio, the record holder for number of consecutive games played.

For Ginebra coach Tim Cone, it’s all about making sure the series won’t go to Game 5.

“We need to put all our eggs in one basket and that’s what we did. We didn’t want to go to Game 5,” Cone added.

The Scores:

GINEBRA 99 – Brownlee 24, J. Aguilar 19, Tenorio 18, Thompson 14, Malonzo 10, Pringle 5, Gray 3, Pinto 3, Mariano 2, Standhardinger 1, Pessumal 0, R. Aguilar 0

MAGNOLIA 84 – Abueva 14, Rakocevic 13, Jalalon 12, Lee 9, Reavis 8, Barroca 7, Ahanmisi 6,  Sangalang 6, Dionisio 4, Wong 3, Corpuz 2, Dela Rosa 0, Mendoza 0

QUARTERS: 29-18, 53-41, 82-68, 99-84

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