MANILA – Barangay Ginebra took the opener of the PBA Commissioner's Cup after beating Bay Area, 96-81, in front of 18,252 fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Christmas night.
The Gin Kings turned things around late in the second quarter, going on a 15-0 run to turn a 26-34 deficit midway through the period into a 41-34 lead, and they never looked back from there.
Justin Brownlee led Ginebra with 28 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block.
LA Tenorio added a conference-high 22 points, one rebound, three assists, and three steals, while Christian Standhardinger, who helped spark the team's game-turning second-quarter rally, finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Andrew Nicholson led Bay Area with 27 points, 12 rebounds, one block, and two steals.
Game 2, the last PBA game for 2022, is on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Brownlee leads Best Import race
Brownlee's performance in Game 1 was at par with his averages until the semifinals which put him way ahead of the pack in the Best Import race.
The six-foot-five wingman, the Gin Kings' resident import for the Governors' Cup, has 52.7 statistical points (SPs), leading Magnolia's Nick Rakocevic (45.5) by a little more than seven points.
Devon Scott is in third with 44.8 SPs.
Meanwhile, NorthPort's Robert Bolick leads all locals in the Best Player of the Conference race with 33.9 SPs with Ginebra's Scottie Thompson in second with 32.1.
However, with the Gin Kings making the semifinals interestingly enough by beating the Batang Pier in the quarterfinals, Thompson got some sort of an advantage with the votes from the media and players coming up.
San Miguel's CJ Perez is third with 31.3 SPs, Ginebra's Jamie Malonzo is fourth with 30.9, and NLEX's Don Trollano is fifth with 29.1.
The BPC and the Best Import awards will be handed out on Jan. 6 before Game 4 of the Dragons-Gin Kings series.
All the Bay Area players, including imports Nicholson and Myles Powell, are ineligible for an individual award because they came in as a guest team. (PNA)