THE rivalry between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco is just starting to blossom as the two teams face off in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals for the second straight season.
But if you dig deeper, there’s more history between the two teams as well as the players involved in the title series that unfolds with Game One on Friday night in Lucena.
We count down some trivia from 10 to 1.
10 – This is the 10th finals appearance of Ranidel de Ocampo, who made it to his first finals stint in the 2008 Fiesta Conference with Air21, coincidentally against Ginebra, which won in seven games.
9 – Allen Durham has recorded or at least came close to a triple-double (minimum seven assists) nine times this conference, averaging 25.4 points, 20.1 boards, and 6.8 assists, along with 1.3 blocks in 39.9 minutes in 16 games so far. And expect the reigning Best Import to keep stuffing the stats sheet for the Bolts to get over the hump this time.
8 – Joe Devance is going for his eighth championship – all under Tim Cone - to climb to second most among active players, in a tie with Marc Pingris and Danny Seigle.
7 –Meralco is searching for its first championship in its seventh season in the PBA after buying the Sta. Lucia franchise, which Norman Black also coincidentally steered to its first franchise title in the 2001 Governors’ Cup, beating San Miguel Beer.
6 – Six imports have led Ginebra to a championship, and Justin Brownlee is looking to become the first import to win two titles with the Gin Kings, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
5 – San Miguel Corp. teams have won the last five finals meetings against their MVP counterparts – 2017 Commissioner’s Cup between SMB and TNT, 2016 Governors Cup between Ginebra and Meralco, 2014 Commissioner’s Cup between San Mig Coffee and TNT, 2012 Commissioner’s Cup featuring B-Meg and TNT, and in the 2011 Governors Cup pitting Petron and TNT. The last time an MVP team won over an SMC side in the finals was in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup when TNT beat Ginebra. Can SMC sustain its run or will the MVP group break it?
4 – Sonny Jaworski is undeniably the most famous Ginebra player ever, but the Living Legend also has an affinity with Meralco, having played four seasons for the Reddy Kilowatts in the defunct MICAA, leading the team to the 1971 title before he was banned later that year for assaulting a referee.
3 – It’s hard to imagine that multi-titled and Grand Slam coaches Tim Cone and Norman Black have met only thrice in the finals stage, all won by Cone –1995 Governors Cup between Alaska and SMB, 2014 Commissioner’s Cup featuring San Mig Coffee and TNT, and the 2016 Governors Cup between the Gin Kings and the Bolts. Can Cone stretch his streak or will Black finally get one?
2 - Norman Black, though, has the distinction as the only coach to lead four teams to the finals at least twice – SMB, Sta. Lucia, TNT, and Meralco, according to nine-year sportswriting veteran Jonas Terrado. Can he steer the Bolts to their first franchise crown?
1 - Greg Slaughter is relishing his first Finals appearance in his fourth year in the league. Can the towering slotman join the party after missing out in the last edition of the season-ending tournament due to his knee injury?