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    Chris Newsome Ginebra vs Meralco Game 2
    Can Chris Newsome and the Bolts finally exorcise the Ginebra ghost?
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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    CHICAGO -- One of the many interesting elements that transform competitions into rivalries include frequency, defining moments, and star power.

    Opinion on Ginebra vs Meralco series

    In the Meralco-Ginebra duel, the Bolts and the Gin Kings just added another spicy ingredient.

    Bad blood.

    After a mild Game One, which Meralco won via a yawning 93-82 sleeper, things got spicy in Game Two last Friday, a rough and tumble affair that Ginebra survived, 94-87, to save its season.

    Game Three of this best-of-three quarterfinals series is about to get sizzling hot.

    "Yes, we expect the physicality to even escalate in Game Three," Ginebra head coach Tim Cone told me when I asked him about the fight-marred Game Two where Franky Johnson and Christian Stanhardinger got too close, maliciously and not so intimately, during the warmups.

    ‘FAKE TOUGH GUYS’

    Meralco player Chris Newsome later went on social media to rant about "fake tough guys" and tweeted a video where the left elbow of Ginebra's Prince Caperal appeared to have made contact with Newsome's head.

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    All the WWE stuff aside, coach Cone doesn't want his team to lose sight of the mission at hand.

    "The stakes are high and both teams want it. We can't lose that battle, but we also have to keep the big picture in front of us and make sure we don't get caught up in our individual battles. Stay focused."

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    Meralco, meanwhile, also wants Game Three badly, if only to exorcise the ghosts of an 0-5 record against the Gin Kings. The Bolts' haunting agony includes four losses in the finals.

    But for the Bolts to finally hurdle the giant Gins hump they need to bring their A-Game.

    "We are No. 2 in defense behind Magnolia. We can't keep our guard down and we must stay disciplined," said acting head coach Luigi Trillo as he walked me back through the horrorfest that became of the fourth quarter in Game Two where his team "lost its identity."

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    Game Three between Ginebra and Meralco drips with so much promise. Here's hoping the refs won't get in the way and will only blow a fair and unbiased whistle.

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      AN ALAS IN THE HOLE

      Scoring 30 points in the PBA is hard. Doing it against Magnolia, the league's No. 1 defense this conference, requires a Herculean effort.

      Kevin Alas did just that in Game 2 of the NLEX-Magnolia quarterfinals series last Friday. And he did so with spectacular ease, prancing around defenders as if they were wearing dress shows.

      The 6-foot 170-pound point guard, a now 30-year old gem that bloomed at Letran, drilled 11 of 18 field goals including a smoldering 5-of-7 clip from 3. He also had nine rebounds, four assists and one steal.

      Instead of gloating, the selfless, shimmering star smoothly deflected all the credit .

      "There was a lot of film study and coach Yeng Guiao and his staff did a great job preparing us for Game Two," Kevin told me.

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      Game Three, a win-or-go-home scenario for the Road Warriors and Hotshots, is set Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

      Kevin knows there's much work needed. And more peril lies ahead.

      "Coach Chito (Victolero) is a champion coach and I'm sure he will make adjustments. Mark (Barroca) and Jio (Jalalon) are great defenders and I'm sure they will be ready, too."

      Can't wait to see how this plays out. But whatever happens, Kevin Louie Alas will always be a winner in my book.

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      Can Chris Newsome and the Bolts finally exorcise the Ginebra ghost?
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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