By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
FACING in a Philippine Basketball Association finals for the third time in the last four years, imports Justin Brownlee of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Allen Durham of the Meralco Bolts said the championship feeling does not get old even as they said they are looking forward to playing anew in the Big Dance.
Catalysts once again in their respective team’s causes once again, Mr. Brownlee and the Kings battle Mr. Durham and the Bolts in the best-of-seven championship series of the Governors’ Cup which begins on Jan. 8.
It will be the third time that Barangay Ginebra and Meralco will dispute the title for the season-ending PBA tournament after 2016 and 2017 which the Kings took each time.
Mr. Brownlee said it is a experience they want to repeat as they go for another championship.
“I’m super motivated. I wish we would’ve had that three-peat last year but unfortunately, we came up short,” Mr. Brownlee was quoted by the official PBA Web site as saying as he spoke of making it to the finals once again after missing out on retaining their title last year.
“It feels good to be in the Finals, but this point we’re not satisfied. We want to feel that greatest feeling. I’m just super proud of everybody, it just feels great and hopefully, we can get another one,” he added.
The Kings finished fourth in the elimination round before eliminating and crushing the grand slam hopes of the San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, they got off on the wrong foot and was routed by the Northport Batang Pier, 124-90, in the series opener, but won the next three games in the best-of-five to make their way to the finals.
While they have to break through against the Kings in the finals, Mr. Durham said third time could well be the charm for them, thanks to a souped-up lineup that he thinks could get the job done.
“It’s going to be fun. As a competitor, you want to play against the best and he (Justin Brownlee) has shown he’s one of the best imports in the PBA year after year so definitely, it will be a battle,” Mr. Durham said.
“I actually think they (Ginebra) are a better matchup for us compared to TNT (in the semis), who got shooters all over, and I think we’ll be able to use (Raymond) Almazan a little bit more as they’re a bigger team,” he added.
The Meralco import further said that apart from Mr. Almazan, Allein Maliksi and Bong Quinto further shore up their team, which would go a long way as they battle the Kings anew.
The Kings were the second seeds after the elimination round, beating the Alaska Aces in the quarterfinals and outlasting the TNT KaTropa in the semifinals which went the full route of five games.
Game One of the finals is on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.