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Ginebra near Finals trophy thru Thompson’s late-game heroics

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By Mark Patriarca

Scottie Thompson’s ‘never-say-die’ spirit was on full display leading Ginebra’s charge during the crucial stretch against defending champs San Miguel.

After four blowout games, Ginebra ground it out with San Miguel to escape with a four-point win, 87-83, and inch closer to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals trophy in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series Sunday night, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Kings are down 78-83 with 3:16 left on the clock in the final quarter, but the suffocating defense of Ginebra shut down the scorers of Beermen.

Even though Kings coach Tim Cone was not in full strength due to food poisoning, he outwit coach Leo Austria by continously shuffling Joe Devance for defensive presence, and Jeff Chan for additional firepower during their possessions in the deciding minutes.

Thompson took the matter into his hands during Ginebra’s 9-0 run by scoring six clutch points to propel the Kings past San Miguel, 86-83, with 23 ticks remaining on the clock.

Thompson finished the game with a double-double of 20 points and 11 boards. Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio provided help with 18 and 15 points respectively.

San Miguel’s import Renaldo Balkman was understandably upset after his 34 point, 20 rebounds performance was not enough for a win.

June Mar Fajardo, who missed two crucial free throws in the end game, collected 23 markers and 11 boards.

Ginebra now have a chance to dethrone the reigning champs and end Beermen’s six finals series winning streak on Game 6, August 8 (Wednesday), 7 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena.