The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings made one big push in the final two minutes to thwart the upset-conscious Barako Energy Coffee Masters, 93-90, and got back on track in the 35th PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseumn last night.
Banking on the exploits of veteran big man Erik Menk, the Kings erased a nine-point deficit in the final 2:07 to bounce back from an 82-95 loss to the Derby Ace Llamados last Sunday.
Menk scored five of his conference-high 20 points in a game-sealing 12-0 run by the Kings, who closed their first round assignment with five wins and four losses.
The Coffee Masters came from a, 106-98 upset win over the Alaska Aces and were poised to pull off another huge stunner when they turned a slim 81-80 lead into a big, 90-81 bubble in the final 2:07.
The Kings, however, refused to go away, banking on a strong defense to stage a 12-0 counter attack for the scrambling victory.
The Coffee Masters bungled several chances of winning the game.
In a crucial possession, Barako allowed Mildon Ambres to collar an offensive rebound and convert a put-back that gave the Kings a, 91-90 lead with 18.6 seconds left.
In the next play, Barako import Sammy Monroe committed a dribbling violation with 7.9 ticks left that practically sealed the fate of the Coffee Masters.
Willie Miller then sealed Ginebra?s victory by making two free throws.
Ambres topped the Kings with 27, while Rudy Hatfield added 10 points.
Monroe led the Coffee Masters with 27 points, while Red Juntilla finished with a conference-high 23 markers. Leo Najorda donated 16 for Barako, which ended the first round with a 2-7 (win-loss) slate.
GINEBRA (93) - Ambres 27, Menk 20, Hatfield 10, Miller 9, Helterbrand 9, Wilson 7, Caguioa 6, Cruz 3, Villanueva 2, Tubid 0, De Ocampo 0.
BARAKO (90) - Monroe 27, Juntilla 23, Najorda 16, Gaco 8, Dimaunahan 7, Alonzo 4, Vergara 3, Reyes 2, Menor 0, Duncil 0, Aljamal 0, Hubalde 0. QUARTERSCORES: 24-20, 45-38, 70-63, 93-90.