BOCAUE – Meralco made sure there were no heroics by Justin Brownlee or anyone from Ginebra for that matter this time as it hacked out a 98-91 win on Wednesday to send the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals to sudden death.
The Bolts built an early 20-point lead and withstood an expected fightback by the Gin Kings to avert a repeat of Game Six last season which ended with a championship-clinching trey from Brownlee against the Bolts.
Allen Durham came through as usual, but the do-it-all import gained significant local support from Reynel Hugnatan and Garvo Lanete as they Bolts responded to the challenge in front of an all-time record of 53,642 fans who trooped the Philippine Arena.
“I think the two days off helped us revive our legs, give us energy,” Bolts coach Norman Black said three days after losing Game Five, 85-74. “It was still really tough to beat Ginebra.”
“You shouldn’t really be giving credit to the other team in the middle of the series but they’re well-coached, they play hard every game, and of course they have the crowd support so they never really get down,” he added. “And you really have to fight every second just to beat them.”
And both teams face off one last time Game Seven on Friday night also at the Philippine Arena.
Durham made it possible as he churned out 28 points, missing a 20-20 by just one rebound as he completed another monster performance with three assists without rest.
Hugnatan assured that Durham playing the entire game didn’t go in vain as the veteran forward spread the floor again with six triples on the way to scoring 24 points on top of seven boards, four assists, and two steals with only turnover in almost 38 minutes off the bench.
Lanete gave the Bolts an early lift, firing all his 15 points in the first three quarters, including eight in the opening canto where they got off to a 12-point lead, while Chris Newsome flirted with a triple double of 10 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds.
The Bolts’ lead ballooned to 44-24 in the second quarter as their desire was evidenced by them outrebounding the taller Gin Kings, 51-41, including 22-12 on the offensive end that gave Meralco plenty of second-chance possessions.
Still, the Gin Kings refused to go down without a fight and threatened with another-come-from behind win as they came to within four points, 90-86, after a tough turnaround jumper that bounced in for Mark Caguioa with three minutes and 43 seconds left before the Bolts held on.
MERALCO 98 – Durham 28, Hugnatan 24, Lanete 15, Newsome 10, Dillinger 9, Hodge 6, Amer 6, Caram 0
GINEBRA 91 – Brownlee 23, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 12, Thompson 12, Devance 11, Aguilar 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Taha 0
Quarterscores: 29-17, 54-37, 75-69, 98-91