By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
HOLDING a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup finals series, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings are out to close out the Meralco Bolts in Game Five today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Thrust themselves on the cusp of another league title after dominating their opponents in Game Four, 94-72, on Wednesday, the Kings said they will go out and finish things off in their scheduled 7 p.m. match, and reclaim the championship in the season-ending PBA tournament.
“I would love to end the series on Friday obviously. And we will try our best. But this team showed a lot of character in the past when we played them. We went up, 2-0, on them and they came back to beat us two straight in one series. So we know they are capable of coming back,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone following Game Four.
“It will be silly of us to think that it’s going to be over in the next game but it’s going to be silly for us as well to say that we won’t be going to try to win it all on Friday,” he added.
The PBA’s winningest coach, with 21 titles, went on to underscore that holding a 3-1 series lead does not guarantee an outright title, having lost such a lead in a PBA finals in the past — 2006 Philippine Cup where Cone-coached Alaska lost to Purefoods.
“We are aware that a team could come back. That is why you should not give them the momentum that they need to in doing so,” he said.
In Game Four on Wednesday, the Kings were simply unrelenting when they found their collective groove in the second quarter.
After a tied count of 14-all at the end of the opening quarter, Barangay Ginebra outscored Meralco, 80-58, in the next three quarters en route to the dominant win.
Import Justin Brownlee paced the balanced Kings attack, finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, five steals and four blocks.
Stanley Pringle had 21 points while Scottie Thompson finished with 16 for Barangay Ginebra, which is gunning for a third Governors’ Cup title in the last four years.
For Meralco it was best import awardee Allen Durham who showed the way with 21 points, 27 rebounds and seven assists.
Raymond Almazan, who was expected to miss Wednesday’s game after injuring his knee in Game Three, had 12 points and nine boards.
Chris Newsome also had 12 markers for the Bolts
Meralco coach Norman Black admitted that his team was badly outplayed by Barangay Ginebra in Game Four and that moving forward they either sink or swim.
“They outplayed us. We did not give them a good fight. And as a coach I’m pretty embarrassed of the effort we put out there,” Mr. Black said postgame.
“I told the players after that we have two choices — either we pull together and play well in the next game or have of the same,” he added.
In the ongoing finals the Kings are looking to add a 12th PBA title in franchise history while the Bolts are gunning for their first-ever league championship.
The two teams met in the 2016 and 2017 Governors’ Cup finals with Barangay Ginebra claiming the title both times.