Thompson, Mercado treys help Ginebra hold off Meralco, take 3-2 lead in PBA Finals
Sol Mercado hit the biggest basket of the night - a three-pointer that restored order for Ginebra after Meralco pulled within five points late in Game Five. Jaime Campos

BARANGAY Ginebra showed it hardly needed a break in frustrating Meralco, 92-81, whipping up its own storm on Sunday nght in front of the biggest crowd this Governors’ Cup Finals series to move on the cusp of its first PBA championship in eight years.  

After a typhoon almost pushed back Game Five, the Gin Kings wreaked havoc inside the Big Dome where over 22,000 fans still showed up as they banked on a strong start before holding off a mini comeback by the Bolts.

Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson hit the biggest shots down the stretch for the Gin Kings, who won back-to-back games for the first time in the best-of-seven series to take a 3-2 lead.

“Things kind of came together for us tonight,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “And that’s the first time in this series that that’s happened where we got a little bit of defense and we got a little bit of offense together, playing more of a complete game.”

“But all this has done is give us the lead in the series for the first time…but it’s still very close and can go either way,” the champion coach was quick to add.

The Gin Kings can clinch their first crown since 2008 in Game Six on Wednesday night.

Sustaining the momentum of their 88-86 win in Game Four, the Gin Kings came off hot off the gates as they went up after the first quarter by 14 points, a lead that grew to 21 points as they maintained a sizeable double-digit lead.

The Bolts, however, refused to go down without a fight as they made a run and came to within five points, before Mercado hit a dagger left-wing three-pointer that restored order.

It was Thompson’s turn to douse the fire as he connected a triple from the other wing with 44 seconds left that gave the Gin Kings a nine-point lead and took the fight out of the Bolts.

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The game, however, was marred by a travelling non-call on Mercado down the stretch where the Bolts were just down by six points and in a middle of their run.

Justin Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 29 points – 19 more than his Game Four output, while Japeth Aguilar also came through with 16 points and eight boards in 37 minutes as he proved he has healed from a sprained ankle he suffered last game.

Allen Durham paced the Bolts with 20 points, 18 boards, and six assists that went for naught.

 

The scores:

GINEBRA 92 – Brownlee 29, Aguilar 16, Devance 11, Caguioa 8, Mercado 8, Tenorio 7, Thompson 5, Cruz 2

MERALCO 81 – Durham 20, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 10, Newsome 10, Alapag 8, Uyloan 6, Al-Hussaini 4, Amer 4, Nabong 2, Caram 0, Faundo 0
Quarterscores: 33-19, 54-39, 73-59, 92-81

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos