MERALCO coach Norman Black had no regrets maximizing the presence of Allen Durham against Ginebra in Game One of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Friday night.
Durham had no rest in the second half as he played over 50 minutes, enough for the do-it-all Bolts import to pour in 46 points to go with 13 boards, seven assists, two blocks, and one steal.
While admitting he was worried about Durham’s usage eventually taking its toll in the latter part in the series, Black’s desire to seize the moment was greater.
“I actually thought about that, I was saying to myself, ‘Why are you pacing him? We lose, we’re finished. The season’s over and he’ll have a lot of time to rest.’ And I thought about that and I said, 'Just let him play,” Black said.
“If he’s not asking me to bring him out of the game, why would I bring him out? the multi-titled coach added, as if he was tossing the question to himself all over again.
“So what I tried to do in the fourth quarter was use all my timeouts just to give him a break, so I didn’t have to take him out of the game and possibly change the momentum of game.”
The risk paid off as the Bolts managed to come back from 11 points down halfway through the fourth quarter and steal the game in the extra session. Durham ended up outscoring Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee by 29 points, 46-17.
[See Brownlee accepts blame after loss: 'I should've been more aggressive']
Black, as it is, is the last person to ask about 'long minutes' for an import.
“You’re kind of talking to the wrong person,” said Black, the former import known as “Mr. 100 Percent. “I averaged forty-eight minutes a night, so if it’s up to me, he’ll never come out of the game.”
“But you’re right, I have to manage his minutes a little bit,” he added. “But I was thinking about the importance of getting Game One is right there in front of us and if we can grab it, then it gives us an edge going to Game Two, so I just decided not to rest him in the second half.”
[See MVP wary of Game Two fightback by 'hungry' Ginebra]
Durham, it turned out, didn't mind his heavy playing time - so long as the Bolts win.
“Right now, I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to win,” the Best Import candidate said. “If I got to be out there forty to fifty minutes, that's what I'm going to do if we come out with a win.”
But the question is, will he have enough gas left in the tank for Game Two on two days' rest?