By Olmin Leyba

SITTING on a 2-1 lead in a race-to-four dispute against Barangay Ginebra looked all too familiar for Meralco.

They were in the same situation back in 2016, the maiden edition of what has become a four-part Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup finals rivalry, but as everybody knows, that didn’t end well for Bolts, who eventually lost that one in six games.

Six years later, coach Norman Black and his troops get their chance to do it right in Game 4 and this time move a win away from their breakthrough PBA title.

“That was six years ago. We just have to live in the present, which is we’re up, 2-1, and we’ll be back on Wednesday,” Mr. Black said after the Bolts claimed the go-ahead 83-74 victory in Game 3 last Sunday.

“We have a couple of days to get our legs fresh and so do they. But in this business, you can’t live in the past, you have to live with what’s going on right now.”

Most pressing at this point is the strong fightback expected from the Gin Kings in the 6 p.m. dogfight likely to draw another huge crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Needless to say, we don’t want to fall too deeply into a (3-1) hole. It’s a must-win,” said Ginebra mentor Tim Cone, who rued how his charges “panicked” in the end game of the previous outing.

“We were disappointed with Game 3. We had our chances but they were tougher and better down the stretch. We’re hoping the extra day between games allows us to get over the disappointment and we can get our focus for Game 4.”

Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson banner the Gin Kings’ bid for the equalizer on the night they are tipped for personal achievements in the conference awards set at 5:55 p.m.

Mr. Brownlee looms as top candidate for Best Import versus Magnolia’s Mike Harris, Meralco’s Tony Bishop and NLEX’s Cameron Clark while the do-it-all Mr. Thompson contends for his first Best Player of the Conference accolade against NorthPort’s Robert Bolick and Arwind Santos, Phoenix’s Matthew Wright and TnT’s Mikey Williams.

Christian Standhardinger and LA Tenorio are similarly expected to step up as Ginebra tries to prevent the tough crew of Mr. Bishop, Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi and Raymond Almazan from getting Meralco on the hill.

Big man Japeth Aguilar, who hasn’t seen action in the finals yet due to calf injury, remains a “game-time decision” for the Holy Wednesday encounter.