BOCAUE, Bulacan – This is what Allen Durham came back for – a championship for Meralco.
One game, 48 minutes. That’s how close Durham will be in his mission to give the Bolts a breakthrough PBA title after the team forced a do-or-die Game 7 in the Governors Cup finals following a 98-91 win on Wednesday night at the Philippine Arena here.
The two-time Best Import played the entire Game Six and ensured the Bolts get to live for another day after putting up another monster of a performance with 28 points and 19 rebounds.
Last year, Meralco lost in six games to Barangay Ginebra in the finals of this same conference on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Justine Brownlee.
Now, he made sure the Bolts pushed the Kings to the limit.
“This is why I came back. I came back to have another opportunity (to win a championship),” said Durham.
“We were so close last year and we’re in the same situation (now). Now we just have to step up like what we did tonight and we’ve got to finish it. And that’s what I’m looking forward to on Friday.”
This will mark the first time the 29-year-old Durham, a native of Wyoming, Michigan, is playing in a Game 7 finals. And while there may be mounting pressure for him and the Bolts, the import said he’s more than willing to embrace it.
“I told the guys, (I think that was last week), that we have a real opportunity to make history to have that first championship for Meralco,” he said.
“They can go on and win 15 or 10 championships after us, but I want to be in the team that won the first one,” Durham added.”
He can’t do it all alone.
Durham welcomed the support he got from the locals this time, especially Reynel Hugnatan and Garvo Lanete, who finished with 24 and 15 points, respectively.
Hugnatan was especially clutch in the fourth, hitting eight of his total output, including the final of his six three–pointers for the night that finally took the fight out of the defending champions.
One more game like that and Durham sees a very good chance for the Bolts to finally win a first-ever title.
“Everybody stepped up. They knew this game was do-or-die and that’s exactly how we played,” Durham stressed. “Everybody got in there, made an impact, and that’s how we came away with the win.”