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Ginebra flaunts fighting heart, grabs Game 3 victory

When it is winning time, expect big-time players like LA Tenorio, Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson to deliver.

These players — along with Jamie Malonzo — capped a sizzling 10-0 run as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel completed a come-from-behind 89-82 victory to move halfway from winning the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup title Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Tenorio started things going with a three-pointer before Brownlee hit a banked shot and Thompson came away with a timely tip in.

Malonzo touched off that big run with a big triple that served as a knockout blow for Ginebra, which turned a 79-74 deficit in the last 3:56 of regulation to an 84-79 lead with 50 seconds left in the game.

But it was also the defense of Christian Standhardinger on import Andrew Nicholson that helped get the job done for the Kings as he denied him the basketball at crunch time.

Not only did Nicholson bleed for his points, but he also left the game in the dying seconds with a sprained ankle after a bad fall during a rebound struggle with Thompson.

With only two days left before Game 4, Nicholson will be a doubtful starter.

For the Kings fans, who never got tired cheering their favorite team on, this one is worth cherishing.

Brownlee bucked a slow start and came up with a strong finish.

The Dragons put the clamps on Brownlee, who was held down to just a single field goal in the first 22 minutes of play.

A two-time league Best Import and a five-time champion, Brownlee’s next field goal came less than two minutes left before half time then followed it up on a breakaway dunk off a completed steal by Thompson.

But he was able to turn things around in the second half, particularly in the fourth period when he pumped in 19 of his 34 points.

Brownlee also added 17 boards, four assists and three steals in another brilliant, all-around performance for Ginebra, which now regained the upper hand in their best-of-seven finals series, 2-1.

Ginebra legends and PBA greats Freddie Hubalde and Chito Loyzaga were among the 15,004 fans in attendance in Game 3.

Hubalde retired as a member of the franchise in 1990, but even before joining the squad, he was already a 16-time PBA champion and a member of two grand slams.

Loyzaga, on the other hand, was a seven-time PBA champion, three of those he won while playing for the Robert Jaworski-mentored team.

The Scores:

GINEBRA 89 –  Brownlee 34, Standhardinger 15, Thompson 14, Malonzo 10, Tenorio 8, Pringle 5, J. Aguilar 3, Mariano 0, Gray 0, Pinto 0

BAY AREA 82 – Nicholson 23, Lam 17, Zhu 12, Yang 11, Blankley 10, Ewing 3, Ju 2, Liu 2, Song 2, Reid 0

QUARTERS: 16-16, 35-37, 56-63, 89-82.

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