Japeth Aguilar was foremost among the Barangay Ginebra players who dispelled coach Tim Cone’s worries, scoring a personal conference-high 27 points in a 99-91 win over Rain or Shine Wednesday and into the PBA Philippine Cup semi-finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jervy Cruz, LA Tenorio and the rest of the Kings also did their part as they stepped on the gas in the stretch that mattered most to complete a two-game sweep of the best-of-three series and relegate Rain or Shine to fifth place.
Ginebra now faces defending champion and early semis qualifier San Miguel Beer in a best-of-seven semis duel that promises to be yet another titanic clash between the tournament finalists last season.
For the moment, Cone could only breathe a little bit easier.
“It’s always a big relief to get through the quarters,” said the 18-time champion tactician.
“It puts such a pressure on you to make the semis all the time. To me, in my career, it’s the hardest series to win. So when you finally get through it, it’s just truly a relief.”
Brgy. Ginebra 99 – Aguilar 27, Cruz 18, Tenorio 17, Mercado 10, Devance 10, Thompson 9, Ferrer 6, Taha 2, Mariano 0, Manuel 0.
Rain or Shine 91 – Ahanmisi 18, Daquioag 14, Almazan 14, Belga 13, Nambatac 8, Norwood 7, Ponferada 7, Washington 5, Onwubere 3, Borboran 2.
Quarters: 28-19, 43-46, 77-72, 99-91.