By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings are once again Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup champions after closing out their best-of-seven finals series with the Meralco Bolts with a 105-93 victory in Game Five on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Having more to give especially in the second half, the Kings outlasted the Bolts to take the series, 4-1, and win the season-ending PBA tournament for the third time in the last four years.
It was also the 12th title for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA just as it continued its domination of Meralco in the league finals, having beaten the latter in each of the three championship series they have met.
Game Five played a game of runs in the opening quarter.
Barangay Ginebra got early traction, building a 14-8 advantage at the 6:48 mark of the first quarter with import Justin Brownlee and guard Stanley Pringle leading the way.
The Bolts though would regroup, with reinforcement Allen Durham and Baser Amer on the lead, going on an 8-0 run in the next two minutes to go ahead, 16-14.
They would pick up on the momentum shift after to race to a 26-19 lead at the conclusion of the opening frame.
The teams continued to jostle to begin the second frame but Meralco continued to hold sway, 34-24, at the 8:03 mark.
Barangay Ginebra kept pressing it on Meralco as the quarter progressed, only to find a Bolts crew able to hold on and stay ahead, 46-40, at the break.
The Kings opened the third canto strong, outscoring the Bolts, 12-7, to come to within a point, 53-52, in the first four minutes.
Meralco was able to regain its footing, racking up six straight points after to create further separation, 59-52, at the 6:14 mark of the quarter.
The Kings stayed the comeback course, eventually taking the lead, 61-60, with 3:40 to go after an LA Tenorio triple.
Barangay Ginebra stayed ahead, 70-64, heading into the fourth quarter.
With their season on the line, the Bolts began the fourth aggressively.
Allein Maliksi and Mr. Amer helped their team pull even at 77-all with 8:46 remaining, forcing the Kings to sue for time.
It was a timeout Barangay Ginebra put into good use as off it they scored seven straight points to make it an 84-77 count after a minute and a half of play.
Five quick points from Mr. Durham and Chris Newsome pushed the Bolts to within two, 84-82, by the halfway point of the quarter.
But it proved to be the last hurrah for Meralco as from there the Kings started to pull away.
Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson and Mr. Brownlee propelled their team to a ferocious 19-6 run to take a 103-88 lead with 1:30 left in the match.
By then it was all over except the shouting.
Mr. Aguilar led the Kings with 25 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. He was later named finals most valuable player.
Mr. Brownlee finished with 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds while Mr. Pringle had 17 points and eight assists.
Mr. Thompson had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists, with Mr. Tenorio adding 12 points for Barangay Ginebra.
For Meralco it was Mr. Durham who top-scored with 29 points, to go along with 21 rebounds and eight assists.
Mr. Amer had had 17 points while Mr. Newsome had 13 for the Bolts, who played without big man Raymond Almazan because of knee injury.
“The push late in the second quarter played a huge difference for us. Meralco did a good job in making adjustments for this game. But credit to the players for stepping up in the second half, allowing us to win,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who with the win notched his 22nd league title.