SEVEN Bolts supporters standing beside each other vigorously waved one banner that spelled out “Meralco” throughout the game on Sunday night, until one point where only one person, which held the letter “L”, had the energy to continue his task.
That letter might as well stand for “loss” after the Bolts lost steam in the end, allowing Barangay Ginebra to put up a strong finish on the way to an 86-76 comeback victory on Sunday night for a 2-0 lead in their PBA Governors’ Cup Finals series.
The Gin Kings erased a late deficit with a backbreaking 17-1 run to finish the game as LA Tenorio, the smallest guy on the floor, stood tallest by hitting the biggest shots down the stretch in front of a sellout Smart-Araneta Coliseum crowd of over 16,000 people.
“We took a big punch from them early in the game and kind of survived that and we were able to kind of make it into a possession by possession game,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “No one really got up in front, then we had a real good closing kick.”
“Our energy went up in the last three minutes of the game when we tied the basketball game and we just kind of fed off that energy the rest of the way, emotionally,” he added as they put up an encore of a 102-87 win in the series opener.
The defending champion Gin Kings can move on the verge of a repeat with a win in Game Three of the best-of-seven series on Wednesday night also at the Big Dome.
The Gin Kings were still trailing, 75-69, with a little less than six minutes remaining in a grind-out battle, before embarking on a salvo that saw them score all but one of the game’s last 18 points.
Tenorio shone brightest, firing 10 of his 14 points in the final frame, including two on a layup off his steal that gave the Gin Kings the lead for good at 77-75, and three on a top-of-the-key triple off Justin Brownlee that proved to be the dagger with a little over a minute left in the game.
Brownlee indeed turned into a facilitator as he dished out seven assists, completing another all-around performance with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals.
Japeth Aguilar added 16 points and eight boards, while Joe Devance pounced on mismatches as he was the other Gienbra player who scored in double digits with 10 points, on top of six boards, one assist, and one block.
Allen Durham showed he deserves to the Best Import, an award he won for the second straight year as he registered 25 points, 22 boards, seven assists, and two steals in almost 41 minutes, but again found little support outside Baser Amer and Ranidel de Ocampo.
GINEBRA 86 – Brownlee 19, Aguilar 16, Tenorio 14, Devance 10, Thompson 9, Mercado 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Slaughter 3
MERALCO 76 – Durham 25, Amer 10, De Ocampo 10, Hodge 9, Newsome 8, Lanete 6, Dillinger 5, Tolomia 3, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0
Quarterscores: 18-24, 40-37, 57-62, 86-76