LUCENA - Barangay Ginebra showed it was more eager to go for a repeat than Meralco’s desire to go for revenge.
Bracing for a Bolts side that’s now armed with finals experience, the Gin Kings instead faced the old Meralco team that was content to just make it to the title series as they rolled to a 102-87 victory on Friday night to take Game One of their PBA Governors Cup Finals series.
Justin Brownlee scattered 32 points and missed a 20-20 by just one rebound, completing a solid effort with six assists and one steal to lead the blowout for the Gin Kings, who proved their 93-78 loss to the Bolts in the eliminations was just a fluke.
“We played really well tonight,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “We hit our shots and they were 2-of-17 from the three-point line in the first half. They’re the number one three-point shooting team and it was an unusual night for them.”
“Let’s give credit to our defense, but they really missed a lot of three-pointers,” he added. “They’re unfamiliar with the court and the rings and whatever plays into that, but on the other end, we hit our shots.”
The Gin Kings can make it back-to-back with a win in Game Two of the best-of-seven series on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Brownlee stood at the forefront of the Gin Kings’ hot start and strong finish, scoring nine points in the first quarter where they opened up with an 11-point lead, before saving his best for last by adding 13 markers in the final frame to finish off the Bolts.
The prolific import highlighted his fourth-quarter performance with a triple from the top of the key that gave the Gin Kings their biggest lead at 96-75 with a little over five minutes to go.
Japeth Aguilar provided the energy, feeding off the huge crowd at the Quezon Convention Center as he added 15 points, four boards, and three blocks, while frontcourt partner Greg Slaughter chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks in just 21 minutes off the bench.
Kevin Ferrer knocked down three timely treys as he finished with 11 points and six caroms, while LA Tenorio was the other Ginebra player who scored in twin digits with 10 markers that went with five assists and one boards.
The Gin Kings’ size was greatly evident as they outrebounded the Bolts, 60-40, while their defense was also in full display, holding the Bolts to just 44-of-86 shooting for 40 percent.
Allen Durham had to almost singlehandedly carry the Bolts, pumping in 27 points, 14 boards, seven assists, two steals, and one block as he found little help from the locals outside Baser Amer and substitute point guard Mike Tolomia.
GINEBRA 102 – Brownlee 32, Aguilar J. 15, Slaughter 14, Ferrer 11, Tenorio 10, Devance 9, Mercado 7, Caguioa 2, Thompson 2, Taha 0, Aguilar R. 0, Mariano 0
MERALCO 87 – Durham 27, Amer 14, Tolomia 10, De Ocampo 8, Hodge 8, Dillinger 6, Lanete 6, Newsome 6, Hugnatan 2, Caram 0
Quarterscores: 29-18, 49-35, 77-71, 102-87