By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE BARANGAY Ginebra San Miguel Kings seek to double up on the Meralco Bolts in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup finals series in Game Two today on the road in Lucena City.
Happening at the Quezon Convention Center at 7 p.m., the Kings go for a 2-0 series lead after outlasting the Bolts, 91-87, in the series-opener on Tuesday.
Barangay Ginebra banked on their collective depth to buck their early struggles in the contest before going on a strong finish to draw first blood against Meralco in the finals of the season-ending PBA conference where they are meeting for the third time in the last four years.
The Bolts had control for much of Game One but just could not take it all the way as they faltered in the end.
Import Justin Brownlee led Barangay Ginebra with 38 points and 16 rebounds, with Japeth Aguilar adding 16 points and six rebounds in the win.
Mr. Aguilar also had three blocks, the last one off Meralco import Allen Durham in the dying seconds which helped preserve the victory for them.
LA Tenorio and Stanley Pringle had 14 and 10 points, respectively, while big man Greg Slaughter came off the bench for the Kings and produced eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Mr. Durham, meanwhile, had a triple-double of 25 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with four blocks in a losing cause for the Bolts.
Chris Newsome had 24 points and eight rebounds while Raymond Almazan added 20 points and 13 boards for Meralco.
While happy to have gotten the early series lead, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone is not going too high on it, underscoring the need to continue to work on their part as Meralco could only be expected to make the necessary adjustments and play better as the series progresses.
“It’s going to be a grind-out, fight-to-the-end type of a series,” Mr. Cone said at the postgame press conference following Game One at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Meralco is so disciplined in the way they play it’s hard to really get them out of their tempo and so you have to play at max tempo all the way and that’s not really a comfortable tempo with us. And it really just comes down to each possession; everything’s riding on one possession throughout the game you feel like if you blow one possession you might blow the game” he added.
For the Bolts, they lamented not being able to put away Game One in their favor and vowed to do better come the next game.
Meralco is hoping that its bench gets to do its share in support of their starters for it to put up a sustained fight throughout.
“We need to get more production from the bench. I haven’t studied the statistics yet but we really have to get production from our bench. That is something we have to fix in Game Two,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
Adding, “I still have to get my starters out to rest and when we do that we want to maintain whatever advantage that we have or even build on it if possible. So our bench really has to play better in Game Two.”
In the ongoing series the Kings are looking to secure their 12th PBA title while the Bolts are gunning for a first-ever league championship.