BARANGAY Ginebra braces for an expected comeback by Meralco as the Gin Kings aim to close out the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals in Game Six on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After clicking on both ends to take Game Five, 92-81, for their first back-to-back wins ain the best-of-seven series and a 3-2 lead, the Gin Kings seek to sustain the momentum to finally put an end to their eight-year championship drought.
“We put up our best game in the series together in Game Five and now our challenge is to follow it up and not give the momentum back to Meralco,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said on the eve of the 7 p.m. encounter before an another expected sellout crowd.
It’s definitely easier said than done as the Gin Kings take on a Bolts side that has overcome tremendous odds not just this conference, but the entire season, seeing them transform from a cellar dweller in the Philippine Cup to a title contender in the season-ending tournament.
“We expect a big fightback by them,” Cone, who’s in his 30th finals appearance, said. “They’ve been an incredibly resilient team all-conference long.”
Save for allowing a late rally, the Gin Kings showed they know how to protect a big lead against Bolts as they led from start to finish in Game Five.
But before that, the Gin Kings have known that no lead is safe against the Bolts, led by Allen Durham, Jimmy Alapag, Reynel Hugnatan, Chris Newsome, and Cliff Hodge.
“We haven’t been very good with leads this whole series,” said Cone, whose team squandered a 16-point lead in Game Four before eking out a two-point win. “Leading three-two in a best-of-seven series is like being up three or four points starting the fourth quarter: you’re up, but you haven’t closed anything yet.”
That’s why the Gin Kings, behind Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and 'Fast and Furious' pair of Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa, have to match the intensity of the Bolts.
“We are going to play the best basketball of our lives – that’s the only way we can stop Meralco,” Aguilar said. “We’re just gonna go all out.”