MERALCO’s balanced act trumped Ginebra’s one-man show as the Bolts held off the Gin Kings, 107-103, on Wednesday night to regain the lead in their PBA Governors’ Cup Finals series before another huge crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Reynel Hugnatan shone brightest among the Bolts’ locals along with Jimmy Alapag and Chris Newsome, while import Allen Durham bounced back from a sub-par showing as the quartet negated the superb showing of Gin Kings import Justin Brownlee.
Hugnatan hit three three-pointers down the stretch, the last that gave them enough cushion to withstand a late rally led by Brownlee, who capped conference-high 42 points with a triple from way beyond the arc that gave the Gin Kings a chance, before falling short.
“It was a game neither team wanted to lose,” Bolts coach Norman Black said as his team took a 2-1 lead in the series. “We’re getting closer to where we want to be. We really wanted to take Game Three because we felt that would give us an advantage going further into the series.”
Game Four is on Friday also at the Big Dome where the Bolts can move on the verge of capturing the championship in their first try, or the Gin Kings can tie the series up anew and turn it into a best-of-three affair.
Still given space despite adding a new weapon to his arsenal, Hugnatan made the Gin Kings pay with timely treys as he ended up with 17 points, eight boards, and three assists.
Alapag also caught fire from deep as he continued to cement his place atop the three-point shooting list, keeping the Gin Kings at bay with his outside shooting, finishing with 18 points to match his highest output in a Meralco uniform.
Durham scattered 36 points and 20 boards after scoring just 22 points in their Game Two, while Newsome was solid as usual with 22 points, seven assists, and three boards.
Brownlee was forced to almost singlehandedly carry the Gin Kings as the prolific import found little local support outside LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, and Scottie Thompson.
The Gin Kings, though, stayed within striking distance after that long trey by Brownlee off a timeout with 11.2 seconds left nudged them to within two points, before Durham iced the game with two charities on the other end.
MERALCO 107 – Durham 36, Newsome 22, Alapag 18, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 6, Faundo 4, Uyloan 3, Amer 1, Al-Hussaini 0, Nabong 0
GINEBRA 103 – Brownlee 42, Tenorio 14, Aguilar 12, Thompson 10, Cruz 6, Mariano 6, Devance 5, Mercado 4, Ellis 2, Marcelo 2, Caguioa 0
Quarterscores: 18-20, 48-44, 71-69, 107-103