Black hopes bench steps up in bounce back bid

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Meralco Bolts guard Chris Newsome had 24 points in Game One of the best-of-seven PBA Governors’ Cup finals series on Tuesday but it was not enough to push the Bolts over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, slumping to a 91-87 defeat. -- ALVIN S. GO

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

OUTLASTED in Game One of their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup final series on Tuesday, the Meralco Bolts look to bounce back against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in Game Two, hopefully with help from their bench.

Thus, said, Meralco coach Norman Black after his team dropped the series-opener of the finals, 91-87, in a game that they had control of for the most part only for them to falter in the end.

The multi-titled PBA coach said bench play left much to be desired in Game One and that it something they have to address come the next game.

“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 Mr. Black in the postgame press conference on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“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 have to play better in Game Two,” he added.

In Game One, Mr. Black tapped five players off the bench but only two managed to score — Anjo Caram (4) and Allein Maliksi (2).

The Meralco bench only had four rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block.

The Bolts’ starters, led by do-it-all import Allen Durham, tried their best to tow their team but the Kings just had more extra to give down the stretch to fend off the former to book the win and the early series lead.

Mr. Durham had a triple-double of 25 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with four blocks in a losing cause.

Chris Newsome had 24 points and eight rebounds while Raymond Almazan added 20 points and 13 boards for Meralco.

For Barangay Ginebra, it was import Justin Brownlee who showed the way with 38 points and 16 rebounds, followed by Japeth Aguilar with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks, the last off Mr. Durham in the dying seconds of the game that helped put the game away.

LA Tenorio and Stanley Pringle had 14 and 10 points, respectively, while Greg Slaughter led the Kings’ bench with eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

Game Two of the series goes on the road to Lucena on Jan. 10, and it is a game that Mr. Black considers as “must win” for them even as he said that Barangay Ginebra would have the crowd support advantage anew.

“That is really an advantage for Ginebra (crowd support). Wherever they go in the country they have the support of the fans. So we will see. Anyways, we have to win the game. It’s a must-win situation for us and it doesn’t matter where we play,” the Meralco coach said.