MERALCO finally rediscovered its fiery form in time as it repulsed Barangay Ginebra, 94-81, to pull a game back in their PBA Governors’ Cup Finals series on Wednesday night in front of a huge crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts team that finished on top after the eliminations and swept Star in the semifinals showed up late in the game where they banked on a late 11-0 salvo to turn the game around and reduce the Gin Kings’ lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
“The game becomes a lot easier if we knock down shots,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “A lot of credit goes to Reynel who made a lot of shots.”
“And the difference was we played defense for forty-eight minutes,” he added.
Durham pumped in 38 points, 20 rebounds, five blocks, four assists, and two steals in almost 44 minutes of play as he kept the Bolts within striking distance all-game long.
But this time, the do-it-all import finally got help, particularly from Hugntan, who drained seven treys on the way to scoring 22 points on top of five boards, two assists, and one steal, without committing a turnover in almost 39 minutes on the court.
The Bolts can tie the series with a win in Game Four on Friday night also at the Big Dome.
Hugnatan, stepping up after Ranide de Ocampo went out with a calf injury in the first quarter, knocked down his last triple at the three-minute, 34-second mark that put the Bolts up, 83-77, before Durham completed a three-point play to cap off the Bolts 11-0 run after they trailed, 75-77 halfway through the payoff period.
The Bolts actually ended the game on a 19-4 run as they prevailed even with star point guard Baser Amer wounding up scoreless after missing all his six shots in 13 minutes of play.
Justin Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 15 points, 11 boards, and five blocks, while six Ginebra locals scored at least eight points apiece, before they lost steam down the stretch.
MERALCO 94 – Durham 38, Hugnatan 22, Dillinger 9, Lanete 8, Caram 7, Newsome 7, Hodge 3, Amer 0, De Ocampo 0, Faundo 0, Tolomia 0
GINEBRA 81 – Brownlee 15, Tenorio 14, Aguilar J. 14, Slaughter 12, Thompson 10, Devance 8, Caguioa 8, Mercado 0, Ferrer 0
Quarterscores: 21-21, 46-47, 66-64, 94-81