54,000+ Witness Game 7 as Ginebra Wins it All, Finally

And they survived a furious 4th comeback from the Bolts

LA Tenorio may be playing with a problematic arm but that didnt stop him from hitting 5 threes in Game 7. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

After six games, no championship trophy was hoisted into the air. Yet.
After six games, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings couldn’t use their size advantage to the fullest.
After six games, the Meralco Bolts couldn’t hit their target. Consistently.
After six games, the series is still tied at 3-3 and that’s why we’re heading to a Game 7 so they can finally decide who will take home the PBA Governors’ Cup championship.

Ginebra Imposed Early Dominance

The defending champions started Game 7 with a 5-0 scoring blast as Meralco found it difficult to find the basket as the latter went scoreless until Allen Durham scored on a pair of charities 2 minutes into the game as he later added a lay-up to make it 7-4, in favor of the Gin Kings. Ginebra’s lead never reached beyond 5 points during the first 6 minutes of the opening quarter as Meralco was able to slice it down to 1, at 12-11. Compared to Game 6 when they were shooting miserably from deep, Ginebra already have 3 three-pointers made during that span- 2 from LA Tenorio.

Turnovers have began to hit the Bolts’ offense as evident by Baser Amer who have the ball tipped by Scottie Thompson  as the latter dished the ball to Japeth Aguilar for an easy lay-up to make 21-14, with under 3 minutes to play in the 1st quarter as Ginebra ended the first quarter on top, 27-19 with LA Tenorio leading the way for the Gin Kings.

Ginebra continued with their efforts to break the game wide open as LA Tenorio later hit another long bomb and Scottie Thompson added another lay-up to give their team, a 9-point advantage, 4 minutes into the second quarter as Norman Black called a timeout. Mark Caguioa scored on a floater and Justin Brownlee added another inside to make it 42-29 as the Bolts struggled to get anything on their offense. Ginebra’s lead later ballooned to 19 as Caguioa and Greg Slaughter took turns in scoring on the inside which led to another Meralco timeout with under 4 minutes to go before intermission. The champs held a huge 52-37 lead into the break as Meralco acted as if they needed a halftime filled with rants from Norman Black because their offense in the first half was a mess, really.

The Halftime Numbers

Tiyente LA Tenorio had 13 points while Justin Brownlee added 11 points and 4 rebounds. Offense-wise, Ginebra was the dominant team as evident by their 58% field goal shooting in the first half, including a whopping 65% shooting in the 2-point area. They also prevented the Bolts on the break, limiting Meralco to 0 FASTBREAK POINTS while Ginebra 6 points off fastbreak opportunities.
Surprisingly, Jared Dillinger had 11 points after the first two quarters for Meralco while Cliff Hodge added  8 makers. Allen Durham was almost a non-factor for Meralco as he only managed 6 points on a horrible 1 of 6 shooting while playing for 24 minutes, so far. Meralco’s inability to score consistently in the first half was what doomed them in the first place as they only made 35% of their shot attempts. Lots of clanks. Indeed.


Meralco’s Struggles Continued


After Meralco sliced the lead to just 12 points during the opening minutes of the second half, Ginebra unleased an offensive outburst to re-establish a 20-point lead with under 10 minutes to play- a lead sliced down anew to 17 after Allen Durham completed a three-point play. However, shooting slump hurt Meralco during the early goings. To make things worse, Jared Dillinger was called for a “deliberate” foul after a hard foul on Japeh Aguilar with under 4 minutes left. Despite Allen Durham’s commendable effort who produced 12 points in the 3rd quart alone, Meralco failed to contain LA Tenorio who already had 23 points after 3 quarters as Ginebra walked with an 81-64 leading into the final quarter. 
Meralco began the 4th quarter by cutting the lead to 12 anew thanks to Garvo Lanete’s trey which forced Tim Cone to call a timeout with barely 2 minutes into the quarter. But Justin Brownlee scored 5 consecutive points for the Gin Kings to quickly regain control and put his team up, at 86-69. Ginebra’s lead never reached below 11 points the rest of the first 7 minutes of the 4th quarter as every time Meralco attempted to cut the deficit, Ginebra instantly answered right back with an outburst of their own to keep the Bolts at bay. 
That was until Anjo Caram scored on a lay-up to bring Meralco within 9 points for the first time in a LONG time. However, for Meralco, Joe Devance made it 100-89  on a lay-up with under 2 minutes as time was already on the side of the Gin Kings. Chirs Newsome decreased the deficit down to 7 on a lay-up while he was fouled but missed the bonus charity as Allen Durham grabbed 2 offensive rebounds during the final minute and dished an assist to Jared Dillinger who in turn, drained a three-pointer to make it 100-95 with 40 ticks on the clock. Utilizing their height advantage, Japeth Aguilar was able to grab an important offensive rebound as LA Tenorio made 1 of 2 free throws to make it, 101-96 with 22 seconds left as Norman Black used up his final timeout of the ballgame. 

The Numbers that Mattered in the End

LA Tenorio led Ginebra with 26 points while Justin Brownlee added 23 points and 8 rebounds. Scottie Thompson chipped 14 points and 9 rebounds- leading the Gin Kings in rebounds in this victory. As expected, it was defense that won the title for Ginebra as they limited Meralco to only 41% field goal shooting throughout Game 7. 
Allen Durham’s 26 points and 24 rebounds were all for naught as Meralco, for the second consecutive time, against the same team, failed to win it all. Jared Dillinger’s 20 points came way too late and so were Cliff Hodge’s 14 points. Despite their 52-43 advantage in the rebounding battle, Meralco missed 7 of their 23 attempts from the free throw line. SAYANG, isn’t it? 
Scores:

Ginebra
Tenorio 26, Brownlee 23, Thompson 14, Slaughter 12, J. Aguilar 10, Devance 10, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2

Meralco
Durham 26, Dillinger 20, Hodge 14, Newsome 11, Caram 9, Hugnatan 7, Amer 6, Lanete 3

Quarter scoring

27-19, 52-36, 81-64, 101-96

Hugnatan Hits 6 Threes, Durham has 28 to Force a Game 7

Meralco led all game along and held on in the 4th

Chris Newsome and the Bolts defied the odds to force a Game 7.

One team is hoping to celebrate their second consecutive Governors’ Cup championship by the end of the night while one team is hoping to stay in the title hunt and extend this series to a Game 7 on Friday at the Philippine Arena. For the defending champions, win Game 6 and you get to enjoy the rest of the night. 
For the Meralco Bolts, on the other hand, provide Allen Durham with the much-needed reinforcements and they might just extend this best-of-7 Finals series to a winner-take-all match. Might.
Nope. The balloons and the confetti will have to wait until Friday as the Meralco Bolts did what they have to do to extend this series to a rubber match after they beat Ginebra, 98-91 in Game 6.

Meralco’s Locals Sparked Early On

Garvo Lanete started things off in Game 6 with a three-pointer as the Meralco Bolts raced to a 12-4 advantage after Chris Newsome scored on a fastbreak lay-up halfway through the first quarter. Around that span of time, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings were only shooting 25% from the field which explained why Tim Cone called a timeout.

After Ginebra cut the lead down to 5, at 15-10, the Bolts answered right back with their scoring run of their own to put up a 9-point lead. Another trey from Lanete gave Meralco their first taste of a double-digit advantage, at 25-14 as Ginebra mysteriously struggled to get anything going on offense. Meralco held a 29-17 after the first 12 minutes of action as Lanete already have 8 points under his name as he nailed 2 of Meralco’s 4 threes to start the game.

Meralco’s offense vanished at the early moments of the second quarter which enabled the Gin Kings to cut down the deficit down to 6, at 29-23 as Ginebra’s defense held the Bolts scoreless for almost 3 minutes as the Bolts succumbed to commit costly turnovers. Garvo Lanete finally broke the spell of the Bolts on a teardrop and Aleen Durham added another lay-up to re-establish a nine-point cushion, at 33-24. Baser Amer later drained a trey and Durham added another inside basket as Meralco established a 14-point advantage heading into another Ginebra timeout.
5 points from Jared Dillinger plus a free throw from Amer made it 44-24 with 6 minutes to play as Ginebra was struggling terribly to put the ball into the basket as Reynel Huganatan drained another three-pointer to keep the Bolts by 17 points. Both teams walked into the halftime break with the Bolts leading, 54-17.

The Digits at the Half

Allen Durham, as expected led the way for the players of Norman Black with 13 points and 11 rebounds but this time, he had more reinforcements as Reynel Hugnatan had 11 points off the bench while Lanete added 10 as a starter. Three-point shooting has been the key for Meralco as it was evident in the first half of Game 6 which saw  the Bols make 7 of their 16 shots from outside
For Ginebra, Justin Brownlee matched Durham’s numbers with 13 points on his own but no one else followed through for the Gin Kings as Greg Slaughter had 8 points while LA Tenorio scored 6 points on 3 of 9 field goal shooting. Almost everything went terribly wrong for the champs, at least in the first half of Game 6 as Ginebra failed to match the intensity of Meralco as evident in their points scored on fastbreak opportunities, an area where Tim Cone’s boys only scored 2 points while allowing Meralco to score 12 points on the break.

Ginebra’s Climb

From the highest of 17 points during the halftime break, Ginebra relied on Justin Brownlee as the Gin Gin Kings went on a scoring burst to cut the deficit down to 13 points, at 61-48 with under 8 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. After a Meralco timeout, Greg Slaughter unleashed a personal 4-0 run as part of Ginebra’s 9-0 run cut down the lead down to a single digit for the first time since the first half as Garvo Lanete scored on the inside for a rare Meralco basket. 
Later, Scottie Thompson drained a trey as both teams reached the halfway mark of the third quarter. Garvo Lanete scored on another three-pointer to make it a double-digit lead for the Bolts as Gnebra called a timeout with under 5 minutes to play. Ginebra managed to keep the deficit down to single digit the rest of the way as they entered the final quarter just down 6 points, 75-69. 

Meralco Regained its  Rthym 

Right after Ginebra cut down the deficit to 6 points anew, Meralco regained control as Allen Durham went to work to open the 4th quarter and Reynel Hugnatan drained another three-pointer to give Mealco, a 13-point lead at 85-72with 8:08 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Ginebra’s back-to-back threes off a timeout brought the deficit to a single digit, again but Cliff Hodge on a highly-contested lay-up as Chris Newsome added a free throw for an 11-point advantage with the 4th quarter already halfway done. 

One Last Push for Ginebra (?)

Ginebra’s slowly began to click as LA Tenorio’s trey with under 6 minutes left in the game brought his team within 6 points, at 88-82 prompting Norman Black to call another timeout. Moments later, Mark “The Spark” Caguioa drained a turnaround jumper to bring Ginebra within 4 points, at 90-86- the closest the Gin Kings came within all game along. But that indeed was the closest Ginebra came within as Meralco scored on a free throw plus a putback from Allen Durham to put the Bolts up 7 with under 2 minutes play. Then, Allen Durham scored on the inside with 40 seconds left on the clock and to lock up a Game 7 on Friday, Reynel Huganatn drained his 6th three-pointer of the game with 16 seconds left. 

The Digits that Mattered

Allen Durham scored 28 points and grabbed 19 rebounds while playing for 48 MINUTES. The good news was, he had help this time around as Reynel Hugantan scored 24 points which were built on six of 12 shooting from long distance. Garvo Lanete 15 points while Chris Newsome added 10 points and 11 boards. What were the keys for Meralco? 51-41 rebounding edge plus 42% shooting from long distance.
Justin Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 23 points and 9 boards while Greg Slaughter added 18 points in his second consecutive game as a starter in this series. LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson each scored 12 points but Ginebra only got 16 points from its bench players. 
Scores:

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, J. Aguilar 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Taha 0.
Quarter scoring:
29-17, 54-37, 75-69, 98-91

Back to Basics: 3 Things Ginebra Must Do Tonight to Win it All

Failure to do these things might force a Game 7. Might

Scottie Thompson 2017 Governors Cup Finals
With Sol Mercado out, the rest of the Ginebra guards must step up in Game 6. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

After a convincing outing from LA Tenorio who was held scoreless in Game 4, after Greg Slaughter started for the first time in the series and scored 17 points in their Game 5 victory at the Philippine Arena which was witnessed by more than 34,000 fans, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, the defending Governors’ Cup champions, can clinch the title with a win tonight in Game 6 at the Philippine Arena. 
The only question is: Can the Gin Kings pull it out and celebrate tonight? It’s up to the Gin Kings themselves. But one thing is certain: the Meralco Bolts will rely on Allen Durham anew to carry the majority of the Bolts’ scoring load come tonight’s Game 6.
Now, we all know that the Bolts can definitely force a Game 7 on Friday IF they can hit their target, especially from rainbow country. If you’re Ginebra, wouldn’t it better if you can celebrate tonight rather than go home and prepare yourselves for a slugfest on Friday? Should the Gin Kings do the things below, there won’t be a Game 7 to worry about:

Limit Allen Durham’s Output

Okay. This is easier said than done for any team who is playing against the Meralco Bolts. Keep in mind, folks, Allen Durham is a two-time Best Import awardee and his numbers don’t lie either. In their Game 5 defeat, Durham scored 27 points, leading all scorers from both teams, on 52% field goal shooting. He also had 19 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks If anything, the Gin Kings should be wary of Durham’s capability to unleash a scoring onslaught especially now that the Bolts’ season is on the line. 

What to do? 

Tim Cone should put his best defenders on Allen Durham. Throw in double teams whenever Durham is in the post. Frustrate him and you take away Meralco’s power source. Whoever Tim Cone will be sending in to guard Durham will have his hands full. Now, who among the giants of Ginebra can defend the smaller Durham? 
Answer: All of them. Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Justin Brownlee and yes, even Joe Devance can make life miserable for Allen Dirham especially on the offensive end primarily because of the formers’ height advantage.

The Guards Must Step Up

With Sol Mercado out indefinitely due to the injury that he sustained back in the closing seconds of Game 4 which was won by the Bolts, the play setting duty falls to the hands of Tineyte, LA Tenorio who played for 40 minutes in Game 5 and scored 17 points. Earlier this week, Tenorio indicated that he doesn’t mind playing for 48 MINUTES if the need arises but, he doesn’t have to do that, right? 

What to do?

Scottie Thompson MUST step out of his shooting slump and take parts of the defensive pressure away from Tenorio because in case you’ve forgotten, Tenorio is already playing with a problematic arm so the last thing you will need is Tenorio aggravating that arm injury due to the fact hat the rest of the Ginebra guards are struggling to pick up the pace. 
Tim Cone may even opt to allow Jay Jay Helterbrand play for longer minutes because whether we like it or not, Helterbrand can still contribute as we saw in last year’s Game 6 of the Governors’ Cup Finals. 
And, what a better way to clinch a title than with Helterbrand teaming up with old pal, Mark Caguioa, on the floor, for one final time, for possibly their final championship run, together? Fans will definitely go nuts if the old Fast and the Furious duo takes the court for one final ride.

Shut Down Meralco Early On

Let’s make this simple, folks. Bury the Bolts during the early goings of the game and don’t allow Durham and company to turn the tide in their favor. In Game 1, Ginebra finished the first quarter with an 11-point lead and then outscored Meralco, 25-16 in the fourth quarter which enabled the Gin Kings to win the game. If Ginebra can do that again tonight, then the party starts right after the final buzzer.

Conclusion

Ginebra has been in the same situation last year when they were one-win away from the title. If they do the things above, they won’t be needing a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Justin Brownlee to take it all. 

By the Numbers: Meralco’s Mess Cost them in Game 5

And Allen Durham was all alone. Again

Allen Durham had another Best Import awardee performance but wasn’t enough. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Poor, Allen Durham. He scored 27 points and grabbed 19 rebounds- 8 on the offensive end, all while playing for more than 44 minutes in last night’s Game 5 of the best-of-seven Finals series and yet, the Meralco Bolts are just one loss away from another disappointing Finals exit. We cannot blame Allen Durham alone, folks because he is the lone light that was shining for Meralco all series long. Take that lone light and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings would have won the championship in 4 games.
Now, let’s not play the blame game and focus on the numbers alone. Why? If you were able to watch Game 5 last night, then you know how messy the rest of the Meralco Bolts, both offensively and defensively. To explain the mess  that hurt the Bolts’ chances of entering Game 6 with a chance to clinch their first-ever championship in franchise history, this basketball pundit on wheels listed down three important statistics that the Bolts clearly messed up, big time:

50 Points in the Paint for Ginebra

If you allow a team filled with big men standing at 7 foot to score 50 points in the shaded area, you cannot expect your team to win. Yes, folks, the Bolts’ ever soft defense against the big men of the Gin Kings enabled the latter to bully their way into the paint and score 50 points in the process. Justin Brownlee and company were able to penetrate through the embarrassing defense of Meralco as they were able to score on all sorts of shots whether it’s a high-flying dunk or an acrobatic lay-up from LA Tenorio. Bad defense + bad offense= bad game overall.

33 Attempts from Rainbow Country

One of the main weapons that the Meralco could have fully utilized to their advantage is their ability to make it rain from deep. In Game 5, yes, they were able to make 9 three-pointers, 6 more than what Gineba. The problem was, Meralco heavily relied on their sharpshooters who missed 24 of the 33 attempts that the Bolts took from rainbow country. Let this basketball pundit on wheels emphasize that: Meralco attempted 33 attempts. From the three-point line. No wonder why they lost.

20 Turnovers

During the first four games of the series, it was Ginebra who was more careless with the ball every time they had the ball possession. In Game 5, it was the Meralco Bolts who were either showing their carelessness or were defended well by the Gin Kings as the former committed 20 turnovers. 5 of those 20 turnovers came from Allen Durham and we cannot blame him either for that. He was the only one consistently and diligently carrying the load for the Bolts so it’s only natural and human for him to commit mistakes especially when the Gin Kings threw two defenders at Durham. As a result of those Meralco turnovers, Ginebra was able to score 23 points off those turnovers and that was huge for the Gin Kings. 

Conclusion

Meralco will have two choices to make come Game 6 on Wednesday: clean up their mess and play like the league’s top-seeded team entering this conference’s playoffs to force a Game 7 or, create more mess and watch platoons of red-shirted fans celebrate as the balloons fall from the ceiling of the Philippine Arena, all while Ginebra hoists up the Governors’ Cup championship trophy. 

Ginebra Blows an 18-Point Lead, Still Wins to Move One Win Away from Title

Greg Slaughter proved why he is the Best Player of the Conference

Greg Slaughter silenced his critics with his huge double-double performance. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

There are two reasons why this best-of-7 series needed a Game 5 at the Philippine Arena. One: Ginebra won first two games. Second: they lost the next two against the smaller Bolts.

Historically speaking, whoever wins Game 5 when the series is tied at 2-2 will go on to win the championship. After Game 5, one team will go home needing to only win the next game to finally win it all.

They established an 18-point lead in the second quarter. They allowed Meralco to come back and even momentarily take the lead in the third quarter. In the end, the defending champions, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings were able to regain control in the 4th quarter and consequently, regain the lead in the series as they won 85-74 over the Meralco Bolts, only needing one more win to clinch the championship.

Tinyente is Back!

The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings started Game 5 with a 6-0 run, 4 points from LA Tenorio who was held scoreless in Game 4.  The Meralco Bolts, like they were in the previous four games of the series, were struggling to put the ball into the basket for the first 4 minutes of the first quarter until Allen Durham made the Bolts’ first basket with a contested lay-up. The defending champs held a 6-point cushion during most of the opening quarter until Meralco started chipping away and cut down the deficit at 12-10 on Cliff Hodge’s lay-up with under 4 minutes to play, leading to a Ginebra timeout. Right after a Ginebra miss, Reynel Hugnatan drained an open three-pointer to give Meralco its first taste of the lead, something LA Tenorio did on the other end to make it 15-13 in the favor of the crowd darlings. Ginebra held onto the lead, at 21-15 to finish the first quarter. LA Tenorio exploded for 9 points after going 0 of 7 in the previous game.

Ginebra’s Second Quarter Rampage

Greg Slaughter and Mark Caguioa teamed up in the opening minutes of the second quarter to give Ginebra an 11-point lead as the Bolts settled for mostly outside shots which were missing the mark, terribly. A three-pointer from Joe Devance made it 29-15 which forced a timeout from Norman Black as his team was held scoreless for almost 3 minutes.Chris Newsome finally broke the Bolts’ silence with a long one from deep.

Meralco Charged Back

Meralco went on a scoring run which was highlighted by an Allen Durham Dunk to trim down the champs’ lead to 11, at 35-24. Then, Garvo Lanete drained a rare long one for Meralco to bring the Bolts with 7, at 36-29 with 2:11 on the clock. Jared Dillinger hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to trim the deficit to 42-35 at the intermission

The Numbers at the Break

LA Tenorio and Greg Slaughter each had 9 points after the first two quarters for Ginebra who led despite only making 36% of their shot attempts and 20% of their shots from beyond the 3-point line was also the reason why their 18-point lead quickly evaporated.
As usual, it was Allen Durham yet again, shone the brightest for Meralco in the first with his 12 points as the Bolts only shot 31% from the field. Fortunately, it was their three-point shooting which brought them back in the game as Meralco dropped 5 long bombs of their 19 attempts.  

Meralco’s Electrifying Third Quarter

Meralco was able to sustain their shooting touch to open the second half with 7 points to come within 2, 44-42 during the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, a scoring run which was highlighted by another trey from the old man Reynel Hugnatan. LA Tenorio later put things back in control for the Gin Kings as he drained another jumper plus a driving lay-up to reestablish a 9-point lead. 
The Bolts then went on an 8-0 run to come within 1, at 56-55 with under 5 minutes to play in the third. After a Japeth Aguilar dunk, Garvo Lanete added another one from long distance to tie things up at 58 apiece and Allen Durham picked up his own miss and scored to make it 60-58, in favor of the Bolts as a visibly upset Tim Cone called a timeout.The  Gin Kings still held a 66-62 lead heading into the final quarter as Allen Durham scored 11 points in the entire third quarter.

Ginebra Regained Control. For Good

Ginebra went back to work as their defense shut down Meralco while building an 8-point advantage with under 9 minutes to play. But, Meralco quickly woke up from their nap as Allen Durham and company came within 74-70 on Chris Newsome’s basket.

However, a 3-point play from Justin Brownlee and a pair of charities from Greg Slaughter put the Gin Kings up, 79-70 as Norman Black was already complaining about the calls from the officials. A Greg Slaughter basket gave a double-digit lead for the Gin  Kings as Meralco was beginning to go back to their bad habit of fading away late in the game. LA Tenorio later scored on the inside to give Ginebra a 13-point advantage heading into the final 2 minutes of the game. 

The Numbers

Justin Brownlee led the way for the Gin Kings with his 20 points and 12 rebounds but it was Greg Slaughter’s 17 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks that made the difference for the Gin Kings. LA Tenorio also scored 17 as Ginebra won despite only making 3 of their 22 attempts from rainbow country. 
Allen Durham had 27 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Bolts as Garvo Lanete played his best game in the series, so far, to score 11 points off the bench but nobody else scored significantly for Meralco which was one of the primary reasons why they one loss away from another disappointing Final defeat. 
Scores:
Ginebra
Brownlee 20, Slaughter 17, Tenorio 17, Devance 12, J. Aguilar 8, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2.
Meralco
Durham 27, Lanete 11, Hugnatan 8, Caram 7, Hodge 6, Dillinger 6, Newsome 5, Amer 4, Tolomia 0, Faundo 0.
Quarter scoring:
21-15, 42-35, 66-62, 85-74

By the Numbers: Three Things that Went Wrong for Ginebra in Game 4

Because of these things, the series is tied at 2-2 instead of Ginebra holding a 3-1 leading heading into Game 5

Allen Durham Meralco Bolts
For the second straight game, Ginebra failed to utilize their height advantage. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Despite another 34-point performance from Justin Brownlee, despite the fact that we got to see the Fast and the Furious in action, and despite the vociferously deafening “GI-NE-BRA!” chants by the Ginebra faithfuls that this basketball pundit on wheels endured, those things weren’t enough as the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings suffered yet another stunning 85-83 defeat at the hands of the Meralco Bolts in last night’s Game 4 which knotted the series at 2-2. 
However, we must remember that the game wasn’t won until the final buzzer when Ginebra took 4 shots right after Allen Durham made a lay-up to give the Bolts the lead. 4 shots. 4 attempts. 0 makes. 
Even Coach Tim Cone admitted that even if one of his players was able to call a timeout before the last possession, he doubted that it could affect the outcome, stating that calling a timeout will also enable Meralco to make some adjustments. So, the players made the call. Justin Brownlee attempted a floater to force an extra period and he missed. Ouch!
Justin Brownlee may have scored 34 points while making half of his 24 field goal attempts but he had 5 turnovers and had 5 personal fouls. Joe Devance broke out of his shooting slump to score 15 points but fouled out late. 
There were many things that went horribly wrong for Ginebra in Game 4 so allow this basketball pundit on wheels to list down 3 things which basically denied the Gin Kings to celebrate tomorrow at the Philippine Arena- should they win Game 5:

4 Points Combined from Tenorio, Thompson and Mercado

One reason why the defending champions struggled and eventually lost Game 4 was the fact none of their guards were shooting and scoring well. 
Scottie Thompson scored 4 points on 2 of 5 field goal shooting. LA Tenorio, the hero of Game 2, was pointless, literally as he missed all of his 7 attempts although he did have 6 assists and a steal. Sol Mercado, who gurt hurt late in the dying moments of the game, was scoreless too. He is likely to miss tomorrow’s Game 5 which means the rest of the Ginebra guards needed to make sure that their presence will be felt offensively.

14 Missed from Deep

If anything, Game 4 a reversal of roles. Why? In the first two games of the best-of-7 series, it was the Meralco Bolts who were shooting bricks from outside. 
In Games 3 and 4, it was Ginebra who was shooting bricks. Horribly. 
In Game 4 alone, the Gin Kings have attempted 22 shots from the 3-point line and they missed a total of 14. Only Justin Brownlee (4 of 8) and Joe Devance (3 of 5) had respectable shooting performance from long distance as they were the only ones who scored in double figures in the first place.  

17 Offensive Rebounds for the Bolts

This is another one of those nagging ironies of Game 4. The entire Meralco team out-muscled the much-taller Gin Kings on the offensive boards as evident by their 17-12 advantage in that category. Allen Durham, who top-scored for Meralco with his 28 points, grabbed 18 rebounds- 7 on the offensive end. The result: the Bolts also took a 13-9 advantage on second-chance points.

Conclusion

Assuming that Ginebra did get the timeout on the last possession of Game 4, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Sure, they made 43% of their atempts last night but failed to make even one of those 4 attempts in the 40 seconds of the game. Just one make to force an overtime. A 3 to win. Unfortunately, Ginebra faltered. Ginebra missed. And, Ginebra lost. Again. 

Allen Durham Makes Crucial Basket to Lift Meralco Against Ginebra in Game 4, Series Tied 2-2

Ginebra Gin  Kings falter late. Again

Baser Amer Meralco Bolts
Baser Amer made some crucial baskets down the stretch for the Bolts (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Just when Ginebra thought that they could sweep the series, the Bolts came out alive in Game 3. And just when the defending champions thought that they could take a commanding 3-1 series heading into Sunday’s Game 5 at the Philippine Arena, the Meralco Bolts got the job done as they held on to win a close one in Game 4, an 85-83 victory against the crowd darlings which knotted the series at 2 games apiece.
Right from the tip-off, it didn’t take long until both squads started scoring. Justin Brownlee started things off with a dunk to energize the almost all Ginebra crowd as Joe Devance provided the early reinforcements as he drained two baskets, a trey and a 2-point basket to put Ginebra up, at 7-4 but the Bolts, coming off a much-needed Game 3 victory, roared back with 6 unanswered points to take a 10-7 advantage. The rest of the opening chapter of Game 4 was an up and down roller coaster ride as both squads were trying to pull away from one another. The first quarter ended with both teams tied at 17-all.
When the second quarter came along, that’s when things began to heat up for the Bolts as their Game 3 hero, the old man Reynel Hugnatan drained 2 three-pointers in the early moments of the quarter as the rest of the Bolts slowly chipped with Chris Newsome attacking the paint, so was Allen Durham. Even Baser Amer and Anjo Caram scored on numerous occassions.
However, the Gin Kings didn’t allow Meralco to run away as they went on a scoring run which was highlighted by Justin Brownlee’s 10 points which brought the champs within 38-37 with under 2 minutes to play in the first half.  Brownlee dropped a long-distance bomb to put Ginebra up, at 40-38 with 40 seconds to play but Chris Newsome answered right back with a trey of his own to give the Bolts, a 41-40 heading into the halftime break.

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A Touch of the Fast and the Furious: The Third Quarter Comeback

Thanks to Allen Durham, Hugnatan and Newsome, the Bolts built a lead which ballooned to 13 points. With his team down after Durham made a pair of freebies, Tim Cone first sent Mark Caguioa into the game and immediately scored a 2-point shot to decrease the deficit down to 11. Then, the crowd went nuts, really nuts as Jay Jay Halterbrand checked in for the first time and all of a sudden, the famed Fast and the Furious of Caguioa and Helterbrand was back in action and it really rippled to the reaction of the crowd as the chants of “GI-NE-BRA! GI-NE-BRA!” went louder and louder. Another basket by the Spark brought down the deficit to single digit from that moment on, Justin Brownlee 4 free throws to make it 65-58 with 1:11 left in the 3rd quarter. Mark Caguioa later added another lay-up as Justin Brownlee made another 3 to bring his team within 5, at 68-63 heading into the final quarter.

Early Struggles in the 4th

Both squads were struggling to get anything going in the early goings of the final frame as Joe Devance finally scored the Gin Kings’ first three points to make it 68-66 which was answered right back with Allen Durham yet again, scoring on a jump shot. Missed shots, missed free throws, turnovers and fouls mired the first four minutes of the 4th quarter until Japeth Aguilar slammed it home to make it 70-68 off a lob from Brownlee. And finally, Jay Jay Helterbrand scored his first field goal of the series on a lay-up to tie things up at 70-all with under 8 minutes to spare.

Up and Down. Until the End

Knowing the importance of a victory in Game 4, both teams engaged on a close slugfest as the teams took turns in either taking the lead and tying the score. Both imports played essential roles for their teams as they delivered the heavy blows in the closing minutes of the game.
Then came the final two minutes which began with Japeth Aguilar slamming it home anew plus a bonus free throw off a Cliff Hodge foul to give Ginebra, an 81-78 lead which was followed by Noman Black calling an important timeout. Allen Durham then had the chance to tie the score again after scoring inside while drawing a foul but missed a free throw, again. After several misses by both teams, Durham found an open Baser Amer who in turn, drained one of the most important treys of his young career to give the lead back to the Bolts, at 83-81 with 1:18 left on the clock.  Justin Brownlee tied the game with a pair of charities but it was Allen Durham’s basket with 47 seconds that gave Meralco the lead and the WIN as Ginebra missed several opportunities to tie or even take the win- even missing the opportunity to draw out a play with under 20 ticks left with a timeout. No timeout. No play was drawn out. Missed baskets. Missed opportunities. Everything is back to zero.

The Numbers

Allen Durham, yet again, led the way for Meralco with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Chirs Newsome finally broke out of his slump to score 18 points and grab 11 rebounds. Grandpa Raynel Hugnatan contributed 14 points off the bench. Exactly like they did in Game 3, the Bolts shot better from rainbow distance in Game 4, making 8 of their 19 shots from that area. They also held a 13-9 advantage in the second-chance points. Irony, isn’t it?
For the defending champions, Justin Brownlee had 34 points while Joe Devance added 15 but nobody else followed suit and that doomed Tim Cone and the rest of the Gin Kings as they turned the ball over, 19 times, again. They were also out-rebounded, 17-12 on the offensive end- by the smaller Meralco players. Again, irony, isn’t it?
Scores:
Meralco
Durham 28, Newsome 18, Hugnatan 14, Amer 11, Hodge 7, Dillinger 2, Faundo 2, Caram 2, Lanete 1, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, De Ocampo 0, Tolomia 0
Ginebra
Brownlee 34, Devance 15, Caguioa 8, J. Aguilar 7, Slaughter 6, Thompson 4, Cruz 4, Ferrer 3, Helterbrand 2, Tenorio 0, Mercado 0, Jamito 0, Mariano 0. R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
Quarter scoring
17-17, 41-40, 68-63, 85-83

Back to Basics: 3 Things Ginebra MUST Do in Game 4

To avoid complications. That is.

.
Defending Allen Durham is a priority for the Gin Kings.

Like it or not, the Meralco Bolts didn’t look like the team that the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings defeated in the first two games. 
In fact, if you managed to see last night’s Game 3 which the Bolts won, of course, the Bolts weren’t clanking most of their shots especially from outside. The Bolts weren’t bullied by the giants of Ginebra. 
And most importantly, Allen Durham, the reigning and now, two-time Best Import awardee, wasn’t bothered by Justin Brownlee or any of the Ginebra big men for that matter. For one game, the Bolts were making their shots and the Gin Kings faltered in the second half.
Fortunately for Ginebra, their Game 3 loss to Meralco only did one thing: extend the best-of-7 series to a Game 5 to say the least, and if they win tomorrow’s Game 4, a win in Sunday’s Game 5 will allow fans at the Philippine Arena to celebrate Ginebra’s 2nd consecutive Governors’ Cup championship. 
That, if they win tomorrow and, on Sunday. 
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and simply focus on what the Gin Kings need to do come tomorrow’s Game 4 to avoid extension of this series:

Defense on Durham

In the first three games of the series, Allen Durham showed us why he is indeed, this year’s Best Import of the Governors’ Cup. Through 3 games, he normed 30 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. In a victorious Game 3, Durham exploded for 38 points while making half of his shot attempts. If anything, it was Durham’s marvelous performance last night proved that the defense of Ginebra on him wasn’t clicking unlike in the series opener when he scored 27 points but missed 12 shots. 

What should Ginebra do?

Simple. Make life miserable for Durham. The Gin Kings must use their tremendous height advantage to frustrate the smaller Durham and the rest of the Meralco big men. Do that and the Bolts might just opt to shoot AND miss threes. Again. You shut down Durham and you disrupt Meralco’s offense. 

Clamp Down on Shooters

You want to know why Meralco won last night? Three-pointers. After making 13 combined threes in the first two games, Meralco dropped 11 long-distance bombs in Game 3 alone. 11 out 31 attempts, folks. 
And mind you, folks, Ranidel De Ocampo only played for 4 minutes before being taken out of the game due to an injury. It was the 7 three-point shots by the old man, Reynel Hugnatan, that proved to be the difference as Hugnatan provided the reinforcements for Durham with his 22 points off the bench, making him and Durham as the only Meralco players who scored in double figures.

What should Ginebra do?

Contest every Meralco basket regardless if it’s a two-point basket or a long one from outside. You leave one guy open. You’re gonna pay the price. You leave a shooter unguarded. He’ll find his rhythm eventually and it happened in Game 3. We all witnessed Reynel Hugnatan drain those threes as if he borrowed Jimmy Alapag’s shooting touch.

The Bench Must Produce. More.

Sure, Greg Slaughter had 12 points while making 50% of his shots in Game 3. Sure, Mark Caguioa scored 8 points on an efficient 3 of 4 field goal shooting. But the rest of the guys from Tim Cone’s bench? ZERO. Sol Mercado played for 12 minutes and Ginebra got nothing but 2 turnovers. The masked man, Kevin Ferrer also played for 12 minutes but only grabbed 5 rebounds and 2 assists. 

What should Ginebra do?

Simple. The bench players of the Gin Kings should score more and it is imperative that they do especially in situations when the Bolts are on the run and Ginebra’s starters are either resting or struggling to get anything going on the offensive end. If Tim Cone can get his bench players going, then Ginebra will become much harder to deal with. 

Conclusion

While everyone is expecting the Bolts to keep on fighting for their lives in this series, we all witnessed what happened to the opponent who handed a defeat to the Gin Kings in their previous meeting. What happened? That team lost two straight games which ended their season. 

By the Numbers: Durham, Hugnatan and the Threes that Lifted the Bolts

For one game, Meralco was able to work around their height disadvantage and won one against the giants

Allen Durham played Game 3 like the Best Import he should be.  
Just when Ginebra thought that they can sweep the series and celebrate by tomorrow night, just when Ginebra defenders thought that the Meralco Bolts would continue with their brick-shooting habit, the defending champions were proven wrong as the Bolts came out from nowhere as they regained their shooting touch, torched the Gin Kings and the result: a 94-81 victory which trimmed down the series deficit to 2-1.

Of course, this victory by the Bolts changed nothing primarily because Ginebra is still 2 wins away from clinching the championship while Meralco will need to win tomorrow’s Game 4, win Game 5 and then a victory in Game 6 will give them their first championship in franchise history.

If any of you missed last night’s game and are wondering what on Earth happened, let this basketball pundit on wheels run some numbers for you:

11 Threes Made

Since the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings are relatively filled with giant players, the alternative for the Bolts of Norman Black was to shoot from the outside and that was something they did horribly back in the first two games of this best-of-7 series. How bad was it?

Game 1

8 out of 34

Game 2 

5 out of 18
In total, the Bolts only made 13 of their whopping 52 ATTEMPTS from deep. That number changed dramatically in Game 3 where Meralco made 11 of their shots from rainbow country. 7 of those 11 made baskets came from the old man, Reynel Hugnatan. See? If the Bolts are shooting better especially from beyond the three-point line, they can beat the champs. In fact, if they can keep this kind of shooting come tomorrow, they can even dethrone Ginebra. Consistency is the key here for the Bolts especially with the fact that Ranidel De Ocampo only played sparingly but was taken out of Game 3 due to injury. Jared Dillinger needs to keep making more of those long-distance bombs instead of missing them. 

22 Points from Reynel Hugnatan- Surprise!

We all know that one of the oldest players sitting on the bench of Norman Black, Reynel Hugnatan- can make those three-pointers as if he is Jimmy Alapag. And that’s not a surprise, really. Hugnatan used to drain away those bombs during the last time both teams met in the Finals last year. His 22 points in last night’s Game 3 were built on 7 three-pointers, making 7 of his 12 attempts- a 58% 3-point shooting. If anything, the Meralco Bolts will need more from Grandpa Reynel if they seriously want to challenge the supremacy of the Gin Kings. 

38 points, 19 rebounds, 5 blocks for Allen Durham

That stat-line above is a testament that Allen Durham is indeed, deserving of his back-to-back Best Import awards. He made 50% of his 30 attempts in Game 3 and 72% of his 11 free throw attempts. And yes, Durham is one of the primary reasons why the Bolts won last night because he was the lone starter for Meralco who scored in double figures. 

Conclusion

One game doesn’t change anything- at least for the defending champions. But for the challengers to the champions, it means everything to them. For one game, the Bolts were able to take down the giants. For one game, Meralco was able to electrocute the Gin Kings with their three-pointers. For one game, Norman Black and the rest of the Bolts walked out victorious. The next step for them: do them all over again for 3 more games- starting with tomorrow’s Game 4. 

Hugnatan’s 7 Threes, Durham’s 38 Points Lift Bolts in Game 3

Meralco prevents getting swept after Hugnatan provided the needed voltage from outside

Meralco Bolts' Reynel Hugnatan
Reynel Hugnatan shot 58% from beyond the arc in Game 3. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

With the title almost upon their reach, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings need two things: make sure that they win Game and secondly, not just win Game 3 but, dominate it to the point that it will make the Meralco Bolts desperate. 

For the Bolts on the other side, winning Game 3 is the first step towards keeping their championship aspirations alive. The next step? Well, keep on winning the next 3 games and the championship is their- that if they are able to stop shooting bricks and start hitting their target: the basket.
Just when the defending champions thought they could finally celebrate on Friday,  they were terribly wrong as Allen Durham AND Reynel Hugnatan sparked the Bolts after Meralco scored a 94-81 Game 3 win that put the Bolts back into the series, only trailing 2-1 heading into Friday’s Game 4.

Meralco Faltered and Recovered. 

Both teams started out flat during the first three minutes of Game 3 but once Scottie Thompson hit his first field goal, the Gin Kings held the Bolts to only 3 points in the first 4 minutes of the first quarter as Meralco fell 8-3 which was the reason why Norman Black called a timeout. Desperate to get anything going, the Bolts went to attack the paint only to be blocked by Ginebra defenders. Meralco was able to score a few possessions later but they couldn’t attack the shaded nor shoot from the outside as Japeth Aguilar’s inside basket gave Gin Kings, a 14-5 edge with under 5 minutes to go. 
Back to back treys from Reynel Hunatan and Anjo Caram brought the Bolts within 3, at 14-11. The Gin Kings answered right back with a three of their own but Hugnatan took it back with another trey of his own. Caram added another long-distance bomb to make it 19-18 with under 2 to play in the first quarter. He made a free throw to tie the score at 19-all. Both teams tied at 21 apiece after the first minutes of action as the duo of Hugnatan and Caram along with Allen Durham kept the Bolts within striking distance.

Meralco went back into it: Shooting Bricks

Greg Slaughter has already outscored himself in Game 2 when he scored 4 points during the opening moments of the second quarter as Justin Brownlee drained one from deep to make it 27-23. But Meralco roared back into it as Garvo Lanete’s lay-up gave the Bolts the lead, at 28-27 which was followed by Tim Cone calling a timeout. However, right after the champs regained the lead, the Bolts went back to their bad habits: shooting bricks especially from beyond the three-point land, an area where the Bolts made 4 of 8 attempts back in the first quarter. That Meralco slump enabled Ginebra to re-established a 7-point advantage with 5:50 left before intermission. 
Despite that, the Bolts were able to get themselves back within striking distance after they went on a scoring which was highlighted by a Hugnatan trey which made it 44-42 approaching the closing minutes of the first half as Ginebra carried a 47-46 lead into the break. 

Numbers at the Half

After scoring just 3 points in the previous game, Greg Slaughter already had 9 points after the first two quarters to lead the defending champions. His other half of Ginebra’s Twin Towers, Japeth Aguilar also had 9 at halftime while import Justin Brownlee added 8 points. Thanks to their height advantage, the Gin Kings were able to take advantage of their offensive boards which in turn, they converted to 9-second-chance points. They also held a 7-5 advantage in points scored off turnovers. 
Allen Durham meanwhile scored 15 first-half points to lead all scorers to go along with his 10 rebounds but it was the 12 points of Reynel Hugnatan which allowed the Bolts stick around. Both teams had a very contrasting performance in the 3-point line as the Bolts scored 6 of 18 from outside which was a far cry to Ginebra’s 2 of 12 from that area. 

Third Quarter: A Roller Coaster Ride

The first 3 minutes of the second half was an up and down battle both teams as the lead switched hands twice before LA Tenorio made 52-48 with a 3-point shot although he was called for a traveling violation on the next Ginebra possession. Inconsistency went back to hurt Meralco as they fell behind by 6 points during the next minutes until LA  Tenorio’s fastbreak lay-up made it 60-52 approaching the 5-minute mark of the third quarter. 
Coming off a timeout, Meralco unleashed an 8-0 run to tie the score at 60-all. After Ginebra gained the lead back momentarily, Reynel Hugnatan added another one from long distance and Allen Durham added a pair of charities to put the Bolts up, 66-64 with barely a minute before the end of the 3rd period.

Meralco’s Stuck Around 

Joe Devance and Justin Brownlee each nailed a three-pointer to open the 4th quarter as Norman Black immediately called a timeout to avoid any more damage as the crowd darlings had regained the lead once more. Garvo Lanete broke Meralco’s scoring drought with a trey but Greg Slaughter continued to pour in the points. Lanete later added another inside basket to bring his team with 1, at 74-73 with 8 minutes remaining in the game as the Bolts began to turn the ball over anew. Meralco later regained the lead on Allen Durham’s dunk but Japeth Aguilar gave it back to Ginebra upon completing a 3-point play.
A technical foul was called on Japeth Aguilar and Meralco made the technical free throw to be followed by an Allen Durham basket and another, yes, another long-distance bomb from Reynel Hugnatan to put the Bolts up, 83-77 with under 4 minutes to play as Ginebra called another timeout.
Durham then blocked Justin Brownlee and scored on a 3-point play to give the Bolts, a 9-point cushion. LA Tenorio scored on a three-pointer but Hugnatan handed out a nice dish to Durham who made the basket to keep it an 8-point  for the Bolts heading into the final 2 minutes of the game. And, Ginebra left Jared Dillinger beyond the arc and they paid the price as Dillinger finally nailed one from outside put the Bolts up by 11. 

The Numbers that Won and Lost the Games

Justin Brownlee played his yet best game of the series as he finished with 38 points, 20 rebounds and 5 blocks. But it was Reyenel Hugnatan’s 22 points, 21 on threes, proved to be the dagger that was buried in the hearts of the Ginerba faithfuls as he provided the needed spark that wasn’t coming from the rest of the Bolts. Key to victory for Meralco? Simple. 3-point shooting. They made 11 of 31 from deep.
Justin Brownlee was limited to 15 points on 7 of 20 field goal shooting while LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar each had 14 points. Even though Ginebra was shooting better throughout the game, their 19 turnovers cost them a chance to get a commanding 3-0 series lead. 
Scores:
Meralco 
Durham 38, Hugnatan 22, Dillingr 9, Lanete 8, Caram 7, Newsome 7, Hodge 3, Amer 0, De Ocampo 0, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, Faundo 0, Tolomia 0
Ginebra
Brownlee 15, Tenorio 14, J. Aguilar 14, Slaughter 12, Thompson 10, Devance 8, Caguioa 8, Mercado 0, Helterbrand 0, Ferrer 0, Jamito 0, Cruz 0, Mariano 0, R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
Quarter scoring:
21-21, 46-47, 66-64, 94-81

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Can Meralco Power Themselves Back?

Or will the Bolts lose their charge against the champs

Jared Dillinger  Meralco Bolts vs Ginebra

Allen Durham can’t do it all alone. There’s no way he can possibly do it. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Two games. Gone. Two games. Lost. 
If you’re a fan of the Meralco Bolts, then you are definitely praying that the Bolts will win tomorrow’s Game 3 because first and foremost, Meralco is playing against the defending champions, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, the same team who beat the Bolts in last year’s championship series of the PBA Governors’ Cup, and secondly, only one PBA team has forced a Game 7 after burying themselves in a 0-3 hole and yet, went on to win the championship. 
That team was the San Miguel Beermen who accomplished the feat against the Alaska Aces during the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup. Unless Norman Black and his wards can somewhat find a way to borrow the auras of the Beermen who did it, it’s not recommended that the Bolts put themselves in a silly position because they are currently in a disadvantageous position, to begin with- owing to the gigantic height advantage that the Gin Kings hold. Also, the Bolts are playing a complete Ginebra team this time around with the Best Player of the Conference Greg Slaughter back, healthy and playing.
After faltering, yet again in Game 2 which saw the Gin Kings win, 86-76 to move the Ginebra two wins away from the title, Meralco on the other hand, is still searching for answers, and more importantly, for more made baskets. Why? The Bolts went 13 of 57 from long distance in the first two games of the best-of-7 series, a horrible 24% shooting. The way the Bolts were playing, they appeared to be engaged in a brick-building contest instead of an actual basketball game because they were shooting bricks in both games, literally and figuratively. When they couldn’t find a way to attack the paint, they would settle to shoot threes. And they missed. A lot.
Coming into Game 3, the question in the title can be looked in two, different ways:

Yes. The Bolts will regain the charge that enabled them to get back to the Finals

For this to happen, Jared Dillinger must score, not just consistently but, score more baskets. It doesn’t matter how many shots you’d miss in a game as long as you make some, too and, help the team get the win. In case of Dillinger, he took 11 shots, 9 from the outside, in Game 1 while only making 2. In Game 2, he had 7 attempts including 5 from the 3-point line, and only made 1 of those 7 field goal attempts. Many basketball analysts are claiming that Dillinger will be the x-factor for Meralco in this series owing to the fact that he wasn’t around the last time when Ginebra beat Meralco in 6 games to win the former’s first championship in 8 years. 
X-factor, they say? Jared Dillinger has become more like a liability to the offense of the Bolts.
Given the fact that Jared Dillinger is struggling, the Bolts must now lean on outside of Best Import awardee, Allen Durham, to get the offense going because Allen Durham can only do so much and he can’t carry the entire Meralco team on his back. Chris Newsome must regain his awesome self.  Baser Amer must find a way not to be trapped by the defense of Ginebra when running pick-and-roll plays. Ranidel De Ocampo must now prove that he can provide the leadership, especially in the 4th quarter and score when needed.  And more importantly, the bench must provide the needed spark especially when the starters are resting. 
The Bolts must find a way to regain that spark which enabled them to finish the elimination round on top, eliminate the Blackwater Elite who forced a do-or-die match in the quarterfinals and, sweep the Star Hotshots in the semifinals. They need the spark tomorrow and they need that spark to be as powerful as possible.
or

No. The Bolts don’t have the enough to power to dethrone Ginebra

Height. Heart. Hustle. These are the three H that the Bolts don’t have against the defending champions. 

Height

Sure, the Bolts shut down Greg Slaughter to 3 points just a few hours after officially winning the Best Player of the Conference award. But Greg Slaughter wasn’t the lone giant in the Ginebra roster that the Bolts need to worry about. Justin Brownlee had 19 points, Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance scored 16 and 10 respectively. The Gin Kings know how to use their height advantage against the Bolts. It’s like a 3-headed dragon. You take one head. There are two more. Perfect monster, isn’t it?

Heart

Ginebra proved in Game 2 that “Never Say Die” is more than just a mantra. At one point, the Gin Kings were down 9 points but they clamped down on defense and came back to win the game- with a little prayer as LA Tenorio admitted it when he drained that long-distance bomb that was proven to be the game-winner. 

Hustle

In Game 2, Brownlee had 13 rebounds. Scottie Thompson had 9, 4 on the offensive end. Aguilar added 8 rebounds. The entire Ginebra team had 13 offensive rebounds which they converted into 13 second-chance points. They also had 9 steals and blocked 7 shots while forcing 21 Meralco turnovers. If this performance is not hustling for you, then what else can you call it?

Conclusion:

Let’s make this one real simple, folks. Ginebra’s height advantage won’t disappear in a snap. Allen Durham can carry 40+ points if needed but there’s a limit to everything. The Bolts can only hope, and pray to the basketball gods that Jared Dillinger will tear a page from Ray Allen’s playbook and become the shooter the Bolts need him to be. Otherwise, it will be a sweep. 

Best Import Goes to Durham but Ginebra Takes Game 2

Tenorio’s heroics moved the Gin Kings two wins away from another title

Japeth Aguilar picked up the slack left by a struggling Greg Slaughter. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

One squad is aiming to take another step closer to the championship. On the other side, another team is aiming to regain their shooting touch after shooting bricks especially from the outside in the series opener. 
After a dominant win the last time around, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings walk into Game 2 with one goal: bury the Meralco Bolts into a 0-2 hole.The only question: Will the defending champions dominate the Bolts like they did after a 102-87 victory in the previous encounter? Or will Jared Dillinger hit his targets this time around after going 1 of 9 from the rainbow country last Friday?
Prior to tip-off, Allen Durham officially received his second consecutive Best Import award while Greg Slaughter won the Best Player of the Conference after missing a big chunk of last season after being advised by doctors to undergo a season-ending surgery for an injury.
With the Meralco Bolts yet again, settling to take more outside shots which yet again, mostly missed, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, through the late game heroics of one of the smallest guys on the court, LA “Tinyente” Tenorio, were able to come through with an 86-76 victory over the Bolts to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 championship series.
The offense of both squads started out flat as the score was tied at 4 apiece 4 minutes into the opening quarter. Later, a double-alley-loop play that was finished by an Allen Durham dunk gave the Bolts, a 4-point edge which was followed by a Ginebra timeout. 
Ginebra tied the game at 8 apiece but then Meralco went on a 9-0 run which was highlighted by a three-pointer by Jared Dillinger and a lay-up by Cliff Hodge to give the Bolts, a 17-8 advantage with under 5 minutes to go as Tim Cone called for another timeout. The Gin Kings responded with 6 unanswered points which narrowed the gap to 17-14. Both teams were able to pick up the pace the rest of the quarter as Meralco held a 24-18 lead after 1. Ginebra had yet to click from outside while Meralco already 2 of their 3 attempts from deep in the first quarter alone: one from Dillinger and the other one from Mike Tolomia.
Garvo Lanete began the second quarter by making a three-pointer, increasing the Bolts’ lead to 9 anew but Ginebra refused to be buried early on as the Gin Kings clamped down on D and scored the next 6 points to come within 3, at 27-24 on Mark Caguioa’s basket and Norman Black called a timeout.Then, Kevin Ferrer, the masked man of the Gin Kings, buried a trey to give the lead back to Ginebra, 31-27 with 6:07 to go as Ginebra was in a middle of a 13-0 scoring blast which held Meralco scoreless for almost 3 minutes. 
Finally, the Bolts broke their silence after Allen Durham scored on the inside but turnovers and taking contested shots mired their offense which hampered them too back in Game 1. Fortunately, Baser Amer followed 2 consecutive baskets by Durham with a lay-up of his own to tie the game at 33 all with under 5 minutes before the halftime break. Ginebra then took advantage of their heights as they scored on the 3 different possessions which gave them a 5 point lead with under 2 minutes to play in the first half. Both squads walked into their respective locker rooms for the halftime break with Ginebra holding a slim margin, at 40-37.
Japeth Aguilar led the way for the champs with 10 points and 5 rebounds while Justin Brownlee had 7 points and 7 boards in the first two quarters. Bench production was one of the major keys for the Gin Kings in the first half as the bench of Ginebra was led by Mark “The Spark” Caguioa’s 6 points.
Allen Durham, officially a 2-time Best Import awardee, had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in the first half. Chris Newsome had already surpassed his points total in Game 1 as he already had 8 in the first half of Game 2 on 4 of 5 field goal shooting. Aside from shooting better than they did in the series opener, Meralco was also able to take advantage of their opportunities to score on the break as evidenced by their 10 fastbreak points.
Allen Durham began the 2nd half by attacking the paint but Ginebra defenders were able to block him and force another Meralco turnover in the process. 
Both teams struggled to get anything going during the first two minutes of the quarter until Baser Amer broke the dry spell on a floater to bring his team with 1 as Allen Durham drained the Bolts’ first two charities of the game to bring Meralco up, 41-40. 
Off a Ginebra miss, Chris Newsome threw a lob to Allen Durham who finished the play with a slam to make it 43-40 as the Gin Kins remained scoreless for almost 4 minutes during that time- a dry spell that was finally broken by Japeth Aguilar who slammed it home. On the next Meralco possession, Ranidel De Ocampo nailed his first trey in two games to make it 48-42. 
Later in the quarter when Meralco was up by 4 points, Scottie Thompson, who was miserable in the free throw line drained a three-pointer to decrease the lead to 51-52 but Durham answered right back with 4 straight points. 
Both teams then missed most of their next shots until Justin Brownlee tied the game at 57 all with under a minute to play in the third quarter but Garvo added another three-pointer during the closing moments of the quarter to give the Bolts, a 62,57 going into the fourth period. After attempting ZERO free throws in the entire first half, Meralco shot 11 of 13 free throws in the 3rd quarter alone.
The Gin Kings scored the first 7 points to open the final quarter to regain the lead, at 64-62 only to be answered by a long 2 from Ranidel De Ocampo to tie the game then Baser Amer made it 66-64 on another jumper during the early minutes of the quarter. A sprinting Amer later gave the Bolts, a 73-67 edge on a lay-up which led to Tim Cone calling a timeout approaching the 7-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Meralco still struggled to make their threes like they did in the first game as Justin Brownlee brought Ginebra just down at 75-73 entering the final 4 minutes of the game- a play which forced Norman Black to call a timeout. Refusing to disappear, Justin Brownlee added an inside basket to tie the game at 75 all as LA Tenorio gave the Gin Kings their first taste of the lead in a very long time on a lay-up that made it 77-75 with under 3 to play.
With Ginebra holding a slim margin, Scottie Thompson was fouled by Baser Amer, was sent to the free throw line and drained both charities which increased the lead to 4 with 1:42 to play, to the delight of the fans. Around that time, the defense of Ginebra was actually holding Meralco scoreless for more than 4 minutes until RDO lifted the spell by draining a free throw.
After Jared Dillinger uncharacteristically missed two freebies, the Gin Kings wasted away the clock then the ball landed at the hands of Lewis Alfred Tenorio who drained a long one- with barely 2 seconds left on their shot clock, to give the champs, a 76-62 advantage with 67 seconds left on the clock.To make things worse, Baser Amer tripped and turned the ball over coming off a timeout and the Bolts were forced to foul. Tenorio drained both free throws as the lead ballooned to 76-64 with barely a minute to play. After yet again, another Meralco miss, Justin Brownlee drained another pair of charities to eliminate any chances of a comeback for the Bolts.
Justin Brownlee followed up his performance in Game 1 with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 7 in yet again, another all-around game. Japeth Aguilar stepped up big time to make up for the struggles of Greg Slaughter as the former had 16 points and 8 boards. Slaughter was limited to three points on 1 of 6 field goal shooting Tenorio, arguably the hero of Game 2, added 14 points but had to bleed for his points as he made 5 of his 12 shots which include 3 of 9 from beyond the arc. So how did the Gin Kings win this game despite the struggles from notable players? Anwer: Defense. They limited the Bolts to only make a lowly 36% of their 79 attempts which also include a horrible 21% three-point shooting.
Allen Durham, despite his 25 points and 22 rebounds, failed to knot the series at one game apiece as the Bolts will have two games to prepare for Game 3 especially if they want to make a series out of this one. Both Baser Amer and Ranidel De Ocampo had 10 points each while Jared Dillinger was clanking all night along as he only made 1 out of 7 field goal attempts which a three, one of his 5 attempts from that area. No wonder why they lost. Again.
Scores:
Ginebra
Brownlee 19, J. Aguilar 16, Tenorio 14, Devance 10, Thompson 9, Mercado 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Slaughter 3, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, Cruz 0, Mariano 0. R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
Meralco
Durham 25, Amer 10, De Ocampo 10, Hodge 9, Newsome 8, Lanete 6, Dillinger 5, Tolomia 3, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Faundo 0
Quarter scoring:
18-24, 40-37, 52-62, 86-76

Justin Brownlee had Another All-Around Performance to Lead the Gin Kings to Game 1 Win

Ginebra Pounds on Rested Bolts to Take Game 1

Ginebra Justin BRownlee
Justin Brownlee outplayed Allen Durham right from the first quarter (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

After sitting out last year’s encounter, Jared Dillinger finally got his wish: a rematch between the defending champions, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings against the reloaded Meralco Bolts for the Governors’ Cup championship. 
While both squads are claiming that this will be a different series compared to last year’s series which was won by the Gin Kings in Game 6 after Justin Brownlee’s buzzer-beating trey, some things will remain the same. For starters, we can expect Allen Durham to go out there with the same level of intensity which carried the Bolts to their first ever Finals appearance last year. 
On the other side, both teams have received upgrades over the course of the last 12 months. For Ginebra, Greg laughter is back and playing again with the Gin Kings while the Bolts got Ranidel De Ocampo whom they got from a trade with the Talk N Text KaTropa. So yes, this is going to be a different series all throughout.

Here we go, folks. Game 1. Gin Kings. Bolts. Race to 4 Wins for the Championship.

Coming off their heated series against the TNT KaTropa, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings took off early in the first quarter and they held a double-digit that they never squandered as they took Game 1 of the best-of-7 championship series after defeating the Meralco Bolts, 102-87
After Baser Amer drained the first two points of the Bolts, Japeth Aguilar rose up for an electrifying dunk to start things out in Game 1. 
Both teams were able to score easily during the early minutes of the opening quarter as Chris Newsome came out running on the break and scored on a dunk to make 11-10, in favor of the Bolts. However, both squads were clanking most of their attempts from outside as they combined for 2 of 7 3-point field goal shooting during the first 7 minutes of the game. 
Despite their respective struggles from the three-point line, both the Bolts and the Gin Kings were able to make most of their baskets as Ginebra slowly began to run away as Justin Brownlee scored on a dunk plus a foul and made the ensuing free throw to give the crowd darlings a 9-point lead as Greg Slaughter finished the first quarter with another inside shot to make it 28-18 after the first 12 minutes of play. Ginebra shot 61% in the field as compared to Meralco who only made 32% of their shot attempts in the first quarter.
By the time the second quarter came along, Ginebra continued their scoring blast as the lead ballooned to 17, at 40-23 with under 9 minutes to play in the first half, prompting a much-needed timeout from Norman Black. Meralco made a run to cut the deficit down to 12 but the masked man, Kevin Ferrer drained a three-point to put the lead back to 15, at 45-30 approaching the 6:00 mark of the 2nd quarter. Meralco failed to get any sort of momentum during the rest of the quarter as the deficit never went beyond 12 points as Ginebra led by 14, at 49-35 at the half. 
Justin Brownlee, who had 46 points in Ginebra’s win against Talk N Text, had 13 points and 11 boards to lead the Gin Kings in the first half while Japeth Aguilar had 9 markers. Ginebra made the most of their opportunities as they made 46% of their field goal attempts in the first including 33% from beyond the arc. Turnovers remained a problem for the Gin Kings as they had 9 turnovers in the first 2 quarters of Game 1 as compared to the Bolts who only turned the ball over, 7 times.
Allen Durham was the lone bright light for Meralco as he led the Bolts with 10 points in the first half. Nobody followed Durham’s lead as Chris Newsome only had 6 points on 3 of 9 shooting while Jared Dillinger had to settle with a 1 of 6 shooting from the 3-point line. As a team, Meralco only made 2 out of their 17 attempts from outside and that was one of the reasons why the Bolts were never in the game, at least in the first half. 
Whatever Norman Black yelled about during the break, it certainly hit the Bolts as they scored the first 4 points of the 2nd half to come within 10 points, 49-39 which forced Tim Cone to call an early timeout with barely a minute in the 3rd quarter. Capitalizing on Meralco’s struggles plus turnovers, LA Tenorio scored on 2 consecutive lay-ups to put Ginebra up, at 61-45 which led to another timeout from Norman Black. 
Slowly but surely Meralco was able to chip away from the deficit as Cliff Hodge scored on an inside basket to bring down the deficit to single digit, at 65-57 with under 4 minutes to play in the 3rd. Then, Allen Durham finished an alley-oop play from a Mike Tolomia lob to bring his team within 6. Mike Tolomia scored on a 4-point play in the dying seconds of the 3rd but Greg Slaughter slammed it home to give Ginebra, a 77-71 lead entering the 4th quarter. 
Sol Mercado drained one from outside to score Ginebra’s first three points of the 4th period to put the lead back to double digits. As for the Bolts, they started to miss their shots and they began making mistakes which allowed Ginebra to run away and take a 13-point lead heading into a Meralco timeout with 8:09 left on the clock. Kevin Ferrer was later left wide open in the three-point line, made the shot, gave the Gin Kings a 91-75 advantage and forced, yet again, another Meralco timeout. Justin Brownlee later made another trey for Ginebra to give his team, a 21-point lead as the defending champions were never threatened the rest of the way.
Justin Brownlee scored 32 points, had 19 rebounds and 6 assists. Ginebra’s Twin Towers of Japeth Aguilar and Greg showed that height is might indeed as they scored 15 and 14 respectively. The Gin Kings were shooting better in the field, making 47% of their 87 attempts. They also had a 19-8 edge in fastbreak points and a 16-8 advantage in second-chance points.
Meanwhile, Allen Durham, the reigning Best Import, had 27 points and 14 boards to lead the Bolts who faded away in the 4th quarter coming back alive in the closing minutes of the 3rd frame. Baser Amer added 14 while newcomer Mike Tolomia added 10 off the bench. One of the reasons why Meralco fell behind early on and even faltered after coming back into the game was their three-point shooting. 
Jared Dillinger only made one of his 9 attempts from long distance. Ranidel De Ocampo was even worst, missing ALL of his 4 attempts from deep. As a result, the Bolts only made 23% of their shot attempts from long distance, a far cry to Ginebra’s 38% 3-point shooting.
Scores:
Ginebra – 102
Brownlee 32, J. Aguilar 15, Slaughter 14, Ferrer 11, Tenorio 10, Devance 9, Mercado 7, Thompson 2, Caguioa 2, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, Cruz 0, Mariano 0, R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
Meralco – 87
Durham 27, Amer 14, Tolomia 10, Hodge 8, De Ocampo 8, Newsome 6, Dillinger 6, Lanete 6, Hugnatan 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, Caram 0, Faundo 0
Quarter Scoring:
29-18, 49-35, 77-71, 102-87

Durham Powers Meralco with 24, Heads to the Finals

Attempted Upset ends in an Upset as Star faltered in the End

Meralco defenders limited Kris Acox to only 4 points. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
After a come-from-way-behind win in Game 1 and an unmercifully dominant slaughter in Game 2, the Meralco Bolts can book their return trip to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals with a win in Game 3 against the fading Star Hotshots who will have to do without their star, Paul Lee who has been ruled out for the rest of the series. While Paul Lee was never a factor in the first two games, we all know what a Paul Lee can especially if he is healthy. Unfortunately for the wards of Chito Victolero, they must find a way to turn things around and force a Game 4. A win in Game 3 would be a perfect start.
Just when Star thought that they can actually beat the Meralco Bolts and they certainly almost did, they faltered at the worst possible time as the Bolts were able to hold on for a 91-88 victory in Game 3, sweeping the best-of-5 semifinal series and finally booking their ticket back to the Finals. And, they had to work hard for this victory. 
The moment Chris Newsome started running on a fastbreak opportunity and finished a lay-up and was followed by Jared Dillinger’s first trey of the night, the Meralco Bolts were already on the run as Newsome and Dillinger scored the game’s first 5 points. A few possessions after that sequence, the Star Hotshots answered right back with their mini-scoring run to tie the score at 7 apiece and we all knew from that moment that this game is going to be a high-scoring affair. 
Throughout the opening quarter, Meralco missed several shots, including open ones as Star was able to take the lead, at 15-14 after Mark Barroca completed a 3-point play only to be answered by Baser Amer who drained another three-point shot for Meralco to make it 17-15, in favor of the Bolts. Just when we thought that the Bols were starting to pull away after establishing an 8-point lead, the Hotshots the next 5 points to come within 30-27 to end the first 12 minutes of the game.
After struggling with their possessions that were ruined by turnovers and well-guarded shots, Ranidel De Ocampo and Baser Amer each drained a 3-pointer which gave the Bolts, a 7-point cushion during the early going of the second frame. Raynel Hugnatan later added another long-distance bomb to make it 41-33 with 6:50 remaining on the clock, forcing a timeout from the Star coaching staff. The Bolts’ lead did not go above 8 points as Star was able to bring it down to 6, multiple times. That pattern was finally broken by Allen Durham who scored on a 3-point play to give Meralco, a 54-43 lead going into the halftime break.
Durham had 14 points after the first two quarters to go along with his 7 rebounds. Ranidel De Ocampo was again, effective off the bench with his 10 points which included 2 3-pointers. As a team, the Bolts were making it rain in the first half as they made 7 of their 13 attempts from outside. Overall, Meralco was shooting 58% in the field during the first half and that was one of the reasons why they were in the lead during the first half.
Aldrech Ramos led the way for the Star Hotshots with 8 points off the bench. Marc Pingris and Ian Sangalang had 6 points apiece. Import Kris Acox only managed 2 points on 1 of 5 shooting- a part of the 42% field goal shooting of the Hotshots in the first half.  In addition to this, Star’s performance from beyond the arc was also one of the reasons why they were down early on as they only made 4 of their 11 attempts from rainbow country.
Moments after the Bolts went up by 13 points to open the 3rd quarter, Mark Barroca went on a personal 5-0 run to bring the deficit down to 8 points. After Cliff Hodge made just 1 of 2 free throws, Marc Pingris scored on the other end to bring Star within 7, at 57-50. However, Hodge added 2 more charities and a lay-up to give Meralco another double-digit lead with under 8 minutes left in the quarter. Meralco was hit by a shooting slump anew as Marc Pingris and Mark Barroca each hit a pair of charities to make it a 6-point deficit, at 64-58 with under 5 to play in the quarter as Norman Black was forced to call a timeout.The lead was then trimmed down to the slimmest margin, at 69-68 entering the 4th quarter as Star was able to take advantage of the Bolts’ foul situation throughout the latter part of the 3rd quarter.
Both teams struggled with their shot selection during the first 4 minutes of the final quarter as the Bolts were holding onto a 1-point lead until Mark Barroca, with a pair of charities, gave Star the lead, at 74-73 with 7:53 to go in the game. Turnovers and highly-contested shots starred for the offense of the Bolts which enabled the Hotshots to score on the other end as Star increased their lead to 3 after Pingris scored in the shaded area while by being guarded by Allen Durham.
After a pair of charities from Durham which closed the gap to 1, Jio Jalalon drained a long bomb to give Star a 4-point cushion approaching the final 3:00 mark. With his team needing a basket, Allen Durham drove towards the shaded area and scored on a lay-up with under 2 minutes to play and Chris Newsome added another lay-up to tie the game at 83 apiece with 1:18 remaining on the clock.
Both teams missed their ensuing opportunities to score in the final minute as Meralco used up their final foul to give with 30 seconds to spare as Chito Victolero used the opportunity to draw out a play. Unfortunately, Star was still able to grab the offensive rebound off a Jio Jalalon miss which enabled another timeout from Star. Barroca missed the next three-point attempt of Star and Allen Durham secured the rebound with 3 seconds left and called a timeout. Durham missed on the ensuing possession. Overtime!
After clanking on most of their attempts from outside, Jared Dillinger opened the scoring chores in the extra period with a 3-pointer. From there on, Star missed all of their attempts even as they were able to grab the offensive rebounds. And finally, after scoring just a point in the entire second half, Ranidel De Ocampo scored on a 2-pointer jumper to increase the Bolts’ lead to 5 with 1:17 left in the overtime period. After missing on their next possession off a timeout, Chris Newsome held onto the rebound and Meralco used another timeout. Rafi Reavis scored the first two points of Star in overtime with 35 seconds left only to be answered by a trey from Cliff Hodge which was later answered by another shot from the rainbow country from Mark Barroca with 11 ticks on the clock as Norman Black called for another timeout. Unfortunately, time ran out for Star as the Bolts held on even after losing on a jump ball in the previous possession.
Allen Durham scored 24 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and dished 6 dimes although he turned the ball over 7 times. Cliff Hodge added 18 points while Baser Amer and Jared Dillinger totaled 10 points apiece. Just how the Bolts managed to win this game with 20 turnovers? Answer: They had a better field goal percentage, making 44% of their shots while limiting the Hotshots to 38% field goal shooting.
Despite the mere fact that Star only turned the ball over 7 times, the Hotshots still lost. Mark Barroca almost had a triple-double, registering 21  points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists while playing for 37 minutes. Marc Pingris added 16 points while Jio Jalalon scored 12 off the bench. Kris Acox, like in the previous 2 games of the series, was offensively absent as he concluded his stint with the Hotshots with 4 points on 2 of 9 shooting nightmare.
Scores:
Meralco – 91
Durham 24, Hodge 18, De Ocampo 13, Amer 10, Dillinger 10, Newsome 9, Hugnatan 7, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Lanete 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Faundo 0, Tolomia 0
Star – 88
Barroca 21, Pingris 16, Jalalon 12, Sangalang 8, Ramos 8, dela Rosa 7, Reavis 6, Acox 4, Gamalinda 3, Melton 3, Lee 0, Simon 0, Abundo 0, Pascual 0, Brondial 0, Mendoza 0                                                                                             
Quarter scores:
30-27, 54-43, 69-68, 83-83, 91-88

The Bolts Return to Dominant Form: Takes a 2-0 Lead

No big lead needed to be erased this time

Allen Durham outplayed Kris Acox. Again. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
One team can inch closer to a return to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals anew, with a win tonight. Another team can tie the series at 1-1 and bounce back from a forgettable meltdown in Game 1. The Meralco Bolts and the Star Hotshots are aiming for different goals for Game 2 but both will require the same thing for the both of two teams: an all-important win in Game 2.
As it turned out, the Meralco Bolts learned from their mistakes in the first game of the series as they regained their dominant form to beat the Star Hotshots in Game 2 of their best-of-5 semifinal series after a 98-74 victory over the Hotshots which puts Meralco one win away from booking their ticket to the Governors’ Cup Finals.
As soon as Justin Melton scored the Hotshots’ first two points of the game, Allen Durham and the Bolts didn’t wait long and answer right back. 3 minutes into the game, Jared Dillinger, who was one of the reasons why the Bolts won Game 1, drained his first trey of the night to give Meralco a 12-5 lead, forcing a visibly frustrated Chito Victolero to call a timeout. 
Then, Cliff Hodge gave his team their first taste of a double-digit lead on a mid-range jumper as Baser Amer followed that up with a 3-pointer to put his team up, at 19-6. Allen Durham later scored on a fadeaway jumper to make it 23-8 for the Bolts approaching the final 3 minutes of the quarter with the Hotshots missing a big chunk of their attempts thanks to the equally frustrating defense of Meralco. 
After the first 12 minutes of action, the Bolts held a 30-11 advantage and a big part of that was their better shot selection which resulted to them making 66% of their shot attempts in the first quarter alone and successfully limited Star to make only 5 of 22 shots in the field.
Ranidel de Ocampo, a seasoned shooter himself, opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer as the Bolts’ lead increased to 22. The lead went up to as high as 23 to as low as 16, 38-23 as Star continued to make a significant scoring run throughout the second quarter. 
And finally, the Hotshots were able to drain their first 3-pointer of the night after 4 straight misses on Aldrich Ramos’ long-distance bomb with 4:55 before halftime, prompting Norman Black to talk things out with his boys. And the Bolts responded positively a Meralco Bolts went on a 6-0 scoring to put back the lead to 22 with under 3:30 to play in the second frame. Both teams went into the halftime break with Meralco at the lead, at 53-32.
Baser Amer already had 14 points after 2 quarters- including 3 made shots from deep. Allen Durham added 10 points while Chris Newsome, who only had 7 points in Game 1, already had 8 at the half in Game 2. The Bolts’ unselfishness, which resulted in Meralco dishing out 15 assists in the first half alone was one of the reasons why they were able to dominate early on.
For the Star Hotshots, many things went terribly wrong for them in the first half. Nobody had scored in double figures in the first half as import Kris Acox had 7 points on 3 of 8 shooting. To give you an idea how bad the Hotshots’ offense was during the first 24 minutes of the game, they only made 1 of their 8 attempts from outside the arc. They weren’t better shooting in the 2-point area as they only made 34% of their shots in that particular area as compared to the Bolts which made 73% of their inside attempts. 
Like he did in the first quarter, Jared Dillinger drained the Bolts’ first three-pointer in the second half which was followed by a posterizing slam dunk by Allen Durham. And speaking of the three-point shot, Allen Durham later scored one that made it 63-34 with under 8 minutes to go in the third quarter. After Star went on a mini-scoring run that decreased the deficit to 22, Jared Dillinger, again, delivered from the rainbow country as his trey increased the lead to 30, at 73-43. The Bolts entered the final quarter with 78-48 lead. 
In the 4th quarter, after Ranidel de Ocampo scored on another three-point shot, the Star Hotshots went on another scoring run to make it 81-58 with under 10 minutes to play, prompting another timeout from Norman Black. Then, Mark Barroca drained two technical charities off a flagrant foul from Chris Newsome and Rafi Reavis added another jumper to push the lead down to 19, the closest they had been in the entire second half. Another Dillinger trey put the lead back up to 26 after Meralco was able to answer that Star run. The Bolts’ lead never reached below 20 points the rest of the way.
Allen Durham followed up his Game 1 performance with 18 points and 25 huge rebounds. Ranidel De Ocampo scored 18 points too to provide the much-needed leadership off the bench. Another player who scored 18 points for the Bolts was none other than Jared Dillinger who drained 6 of his 8 attempts from outside the arc.  Baser added 16 points and dished out 8 assists. The Bolts shot 52% in the field including 42% from outside.
For Star, only Mark Barroca and Mon Abundo were the only players who scored in double figures for the Hotshots as they scored 16 and 14 respectively. Kris Acox was again, a non-factor in this game as he scored 9 points on 4 of 12 field goal shooting. The Hotshots’ inability to make the most out of their possessions is just one of the many things which doomed them early on as they only made 31% of their shot attempts.
Scores:
Meralco – 98
Durham 18, Dillinger 18, De Ocampo 18, Amer 16, Newsome 10, Hodge 9, Tolomia 7, Faundo 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Lanete 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Nabong 0
Star – 74
Barroca 16, Abundo 14, Acox 9, Ramos 8, Sangalang 6, Melton 5, Pingris 5, Reavis 4, dela Rosa 4, Brondial 3, Lee 0, Jalalon 0, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, Pascual 0
Quarter scoring:
30-11, 53-32, 78-48, 98-74

The Bolts’ Game 1 Win: The Good, the Bad and the Worse

Looking at the things that both helped and cost them the victory

Chirs Newsome only had 7 points before fouling out. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

If you happened to be a fan of the Meralco Bolts, then you have all the reasons to be happy after the Bolts took an important Game 1 victory against the Star Hotshots via a 72-66 come-from-behind win to start their best-of-5 semifinal series. However, one cannot simply deny the mere fact that even diehard fans cannot be satisfied with the outcome of the game, with the way Norman Black’s players played the game, to begin with. One may blame the fact that Meralco only had a short period of time to prepare coming into Game 1 as they had to beat the Blackwater Elite during their do-or-die quarterfinal game. One may even blame fatigue factor. There were many things that contributed to the Bolts and there were many things that also ruined them the game and might have allowed Star to win. 

Below are the Good, the Bad and, the Worse:

The Good

Okay. Let’s begin with the good things that enabled Meralco to win Game 1 last night. Allen Durham had another one of his monstrous games as he led the Bolts with 23 points and 23 REBOUNDS. In fact, only Durham had a respectable shooting percentage last night as he made 9 of his 16 attempts, good for 56% field goal shooting.
Another good thing that helped the Bolts especially in the 4th quarter was Jared Dillinger’s 15 points off the bench.In fact, it was Dillinger’s basket approaching the final 60 seconds of the game which gave the Bolts the lead for good as Star failed to score from that point on. Without Dillinger’s timely made three-pointers, the game would have ended differently.
One more thing, Kris Acox’s offensive output was limited to 7 points on 3 of 8 field goal shooting and if you’re Norman Black, you’d be happy with this defensive success by the Bolts’ big men, right?

The Bad

As mentioned above, the Bolts also did tons of things that put them in difficult situations last night. For example, only their import, Allen Durham managed to make the most of his opportunities as the Bolts as a team, only made 35% of their field goal attempts and if you’re Norman Black, you would be disappointed despite the win, right? In addition to this, the usually explosive backcourt tandem of Baser Amer and Chris Newsome only combined for 17 points on a combined horrible 5 of 19 field goal shooting. Another notable bad thing that may have compromised the outcome of the game was the Bolts’ forgettable performance from rainbow country. Sure, Jared Dillinger’s trey late in the 4th was proved to be the turning point but you can’t just make 8 of your 30 ATTEMPTS from downtown and expect to win in the PBA, in the semifinals, against a team like the Star Hotshots. 

The Worse

Okay. Let’s not forget the mere fact that the Meralco Bolts allowed the Star Hotshots to bury them back in the first quarter when the Bolts went 5 minutes without scoring a thing until Cliff Hodge stopped the bleeding with a free throw and Allen Durham finally converted the Bolts’ first field goal in 12 attempts. By the end of the first frame, Meralco had 7 points compared to the Hotshots’ 21 points. As a team, the Bolts only made TWO of their 18 shot attempts in the first quarter alone. 
They may be able to come out with the win on this one but Norman Black knows, as well as his players, that if Meralco wants another shot at the title, they cannot start the game by going scoreless for the first 5 minutes and rely heavily on their import to the heavy lifting because no matter how good Durham is, the Star Hotshots will find other ways to shut him down or shut down the other players.

Bolts Erase 17-Point Lead to Win Game 1

Meralco’s defense frustrated Star’s offense

Kris Acox was limited to 7 points in the game (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Two teams. Two different roads. One semi-final series. Both the Star Hotshots and the Meralco Bolts are also coming off different scenarios in their respective quarterfinal series. While Star only needed to win one game to get here, the Bolts on the hands were pushed to a deciding game but won, eventually. Coming into Game 1 of their best-of-5 semi-final series, a win here would enable the Bolts to get a good start with their aspiration to challenge for the championship, something they missed last season. For the Hotshots on the other hand, a victory against Norman Black and his team will bring them 2 more wins closer to the Finals, a place they haven’t been to in a long time.
They fell behind early in the first quarter where they missed 16 shots. But for the rest of the game, it was the defense of the Meralco Bolts and the efforts of Allen Durham helped the Bolts to a Game 1 victory after scoring a 72-66 victory in Binan, Laguna.
Coming off from their one-game finish of the NLEX Road Warriors, the Star Hotshots got off to a good start and scored 9 unanswered points and forced Norman Black into calling a timeout because his team was clanking every shot they took during the first 3 minutes of the game. In addition to their inability to score and defend on the other end, the Bolts were also turning the ball over as the lead went up 11-0 with under 7 minutes to play in the first quarter. A free throw from Cliff Hodge ended the drought for Meralco and Allen Durham finally scored the Bolts’ field goal in 12 attempts with under 5 minutes to go. Star sustained its scoring start as Jio Jalalon scored on a 3-point play to make 18-3. Marc Pingris added a fadeaway jumper to make it 20-3 with 2:54 remaining in the opening frame. The Hotshots held a 21-7 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Both teams began the second quarter by scoring on their first pairs of charities as Chris Newsome drained a trey to bring the gap down at 23-12 with 2 minutes into the quarter. The lead went down to 7 right after Jared Dillinger drained another three-pointer for Meralco as the Hotshots were able to answer back every Meralco basket. After both teams suffered a dry spell, Allen Durham scored on a lay-up to furthermore push the lead to 5 with under 4 minutes to play, this time forcing Chito Victolero to call for a timeout for Star. By the time halftime came along, the Hotshots were only leading by 4, at 36-32.
Paul Lee led the Hotshots with 9 points in the first half but only made 1 of his 4 attempts from downtown. Ian Sangalang added 7 points while import Kris Acox only managed 4 points.  Star only managed to make 34% of their attempts.
The Bolts were able to recover from their 2 of 18 field goal shooting as they were led by Allen Durham, Chris Newsome and Jared Dillinger who all scored 7 points apiece during the first 24 minutes of play.
Both teams started the 3rd quarter on a much slower pace owing to the fact that both teams struggled to find any consistent rhythm early on. Just when Star began to run away anew, the Bolts surged back to tie the score at 41 apiece with under 7 minutes to play.  Then, after drawing Kris Acox’s 4th personal foul, Baser Amer gave Meralco their first taste of the lead at 43-41 on Baser Amer’s free throws. The lead fell back to the hands of the Hotshots after an Ian Sangalang inside shot only to be answered by a basket by Durham to tie the score at 45 all. The rest of the third quarter became an up-and-down battle as Star, despite making one of their 16 attempts from rainbow country, brought a 53-47 into the final quarter of play.
Marc Pingris opened the final quarter with a pair of charities as PJ Simon scored 4 consecutive points to give the Hotshots a 12-point advantage early on. Durham returned the favor by scoring 6 unanswered points to cut the lead back to 6 with 7:17 to play. Then, after a very miserable scoring drought from deep, Mark Barroca finally nailed Star’s second three-point attempt to put the Hotshots ahead by 11 with  5:23 remaining on the clock.Another Dillinger shot from beyond the arc dropped Star’s lead to 6 in the ensuing possessions.
Another Meralco trey, this time from Ranidel de Ocampo pushed the lead down to 66-63 approaching the final  2-minute mark as Star fumbled towards a risky turnover which led to another Dillinger trey to tie the score, again. Dillinger gave back the lead to Meralco, at 68-66 approaching the final minute as Mark Barroca air-balled a jumper on the previous possession. After forcing Paul Lee into a turnover, Allen Durham scored a difficult shot to increase Meralco’s lead to 4 with 33 ticks remaining. Then, Meralco forced another bad offensive possession for the Hotshots as Star refused to foul immediately after a Meralco inbound pass, allowing the Bolts to waste away before Star fouled eventually and Meralco drained the finishing free throws.
Allen Durham led Meralco’s impressive fight back with 23 points and 23 rebounds while Jared Dillinger scored 15 points to lead Norman Black’s men off the bench. Baser Amer contributed 10 points. Aside from limiting Star’s production from the outside, Meralco had more points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Hotshots 25-13 which allowed the Bolts to come out on top and take Game 1.
Jio Jalalon led Star with his 15 points including 9 of 9 shooting from the free throw line. Both Paul Lee and Mark Barroca scored 11 each as Kris Acox had to be disappointed with his 3 of 8 field goal shooting, only good for his 7 points. Although Star’s overall field goal percentage wasn’t far from what Meralco had, the former’s horribly forgettable outing from rainbow distance was what doomed them even though they had a 17-point lead in the first quarter.
Scores:
Meralco – 72
Durham 23, Dillinger 15, Amer 10, Newsome 7, Hodge 5, de Ocampo 5, Lanete 4, Hugnatan 3, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Nabong 0, Faundo 0, Tolomia 0
Star – 66
Jalalon 15, Lee 11, Barroca 11, Sangalang 9, Acox 7, Simon 6, Pingris 4, Brondial 2, Reavis 1, Melton 0, Mendoza 0, Gamalinda 0, Ramos 0, dela Rosa 0, Abundo 0, Pascual 0
Quarter scoring:
7-21, 32-36, 47-53, 72-66

Bolts Recover in Time to Book Semifinal Slot

Amer led the Bolts as Durham gets hurt late

Amer played one of the best games in his career to lead the Bolts (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
The Blackwater Elite knew that they were facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the top-seeded team, Meralco Bolts when they first faced off against last Tuesday to open the quarterfinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup. It seemed that the disadvantaged didn’t bother Allen Maliksi who completed the Elite’s comeback win when he drained that game winner in the dying seconds of Tuesday’s battle. As a result, both teams get another chance to decide which of them will have the honor of dancing against the Star Hotshots in the semifinals.
They fell behind during most of the first half. Henry Walker was torching them early on. Their own import, Allen Durham got hurt in the 4th quarter and yet, the Meralco Bolts will now face the Star Hotshots in the semifinals after eliminating the Blackwater, 104-96.
Wanting to make up for their slow start last Tuesday when they fell, 24-17 at the end of quarter number 1, the Bolts went firing on all cylinders as Baser Amer scored 5 points during the opening minutes of the game after missing most of Tuesday’s game due to injury that he sustained just a few seconds into the game.

However, shortly after the Bolts held an 8-point lead, the Elite went on a scoring to take the lead, at 18-18 with under 4 minutes to play, thanks to Maliksi’s 3-point play. Maliksi later added another jumper with under 2 minutes remaining in the opening quarter to increase the Elite’s lead to 5, forcing Norman Black to signal that he needed a timeout. The Bolts went 4 minutes without scoring a field goal, a spell that was only broken by Ranidel de Ocampo who went on his 5-point run to tie the score at 22 apiece with a minute to play.

In the second quarter, the Bolts took the lead on multiple occasions but their inconsistency allowed the Elite to take the lead and that lead increased to 33-28 on Henry Walker’s three-point shot 3 minutes into the quarter. Walker scored on a 3-point play to furthermore push the lead to 8. Eventually, Garvo Lanete contributed on a Meralco run as his three-pointer gave them the lead at 37-36 only to be answered by Walker who made a pair of three-pointers of his own to make it 42-37 with under 4 minutes before halftime. He also drained another three-pointer to give Blackwater their first taste of a double-digit lead.
The Elite took a 52-40 into the halftime break as Henry Walker led the way with 27 points which included a 6 of 11 shooting from rainbow distance and, 11 rebounds. JP Eram had 11 points in the first half to go along with 5 boards. Blackwater held a double-digit lead at the half thanks to their three-point shooting which saw them make 6 of 18 attempts, all by Walker. Allen Durham had 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead Meralco. The Bolts were outmuscled on the boards at 33-25 and were outscored on second-chance points at 7-4.
Meralco then started the 3rd quarter by trimming down the Elite’s lead to 6 thanks to Baser Amer who completed a 3-point play. But Allen Maliksi drained a 3-pointer to bring the lead back to 11 only to be answered by an Allen Durham basket off an offensive rebound. Mike Digregorio later answered with another trey for the Elite and Ranidel de Ocampo added another one from long distance to keep the lead down at 8 with under 8 minutes to go in the quarter.  The lead went down to as lowest as three after de Ocampo completed a 3-point play with 5:40 to play. 
Finally, the Bolts grabbed the lead for the since the first half after Jared Dillinger drained another trey for Meralco, making it 68-67 with 2:52 remaining in the 3rd. After making 6 threes in the first half, Henry Walker finally drained his first one in the second during the final 5 seconds of the quarter as Blackwater took a 77-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
If anything, the Meralco Bolts found their shooting touch back in the 3rd as they started the fourth quarter with a series of three-pointers from Baser Amer, Garvo Lanete and the last one, on Jared Dillinger’s trey to put the Bolts up by 87-84 with under 9 minutes to play, prompting Leo Isaac to call for a timeout. 
Just when everyone thought that things were starting to go the Bolts’ way, Allen Durham was hurt after landing awkwardly while driving for a lay-up. He was taken to the bench and was attended by the trainers. He later returned to the game and scored 4 straight points to widen the lead to 99-91 with less than 4 minutes to spare. Dillinger again, drained another bomb from the 3-point line to put the Bolts up 10 with under 2 minutes left and that proved to be the dagger that put the life out of the Elite, for good.
Baser Amer led the Bolts with 31 points while making 4 of his 7 attempts from downtown. Allen Durham added 18 points to go with his 20 rebounds and 9 assists. Garvo Lanete provided the needed spark off the bench with 17 markers which were built on 5 makes from rainbow country. Dillinger finished with 15 points. Ranidel de Ocampo added 14 as the Bolts recovered from their early struggles especially when it comes to shooting threes as they finished the game by making 41% of their attempts from that area. 
Overall, Meralco made 46%  of their shots as compared to the Elite who only managed to make 39% of their total attempts.
Henry Walker concluded his stint with Blackwater with 34 points, but only scoring 7 of them after the halftime break. JP Eram added 18 points while Mike Digregorio scored 10 points. Allen Maliksi only had 10 points on a miserable 3 of 11 field goal shooting.
Scores:
Meralco – 104
Amer 31, Durham 18, Lanete 17, Dilinger 15, de Ocampo 14, Newsome 7, Hodge 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Nabong 0, Faundo 0, Tolomia 0
Blackwater – 96
Walker 34, Eram 18, Digregorio 11, Maliksi 10, Canaleta 6, Marcelo 6, Belo 5, Sumang 4, Pinto 2, Miranda 0, Banal 0, Sena 0, Cervantes 0, Cruz 0, Ellis 0, Javier 0
Quarter scoring:
22-22, 40-52, 73-77, 104-96

Blackwater’s Walker and Maliksi Put on a Show and Forced a Rubber Match

Maliksi’s game-winner forced a rubber match

Henry Walker outperformed Allen Durham in this match-up. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
For the Blackwater Elite, a win here will give them another game to prove to the rest of the PBA that they do deserve being in the playoffs despite having no consistent superstar. For the Meralco Bolts, they only need one win to move on into the semifinals. For the Bolts, they cannot afford to allow the Elites to build any percentage of confidence in this game because if a team becomes confident that they can score on you no matter where they are in the standings, that’s a dangerous team to play against.
Wanting to prove their worth as they are in the playoffs for the second time in its history, the Blackwater Elite came out in the first quarter with an intensity that forced the Bolts to make shots that either clanked out of the ring or even miserably missed the net. On offense, the Elite were scoring on almost all sorts whether it’s a three-pointer or an inside shot. 
For the Bolts on the other hand, who just came back from an 18-point hole to claim the top spot last Sunday, their offense was a mess and so was their defense. To worsen things, starting point guard Baser Amer who also played during a comeback win against San Miguel was taken out of the game after getting hurt he landed awkwardly during the opening minutes of the game.
The Bolts’ offense started to click in slowly come the second quarter as Cliff Hodge who was elbowed by Blackwater’s import Henry Walker the possession before, knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game at 29 apiece with 6:10 remaining in the quarter. Blackwater actually held a 10-point lead during the opening of the second quarter but thanks to the re-emergence of the Bolts’ defense, the Elite went scoreless for almost 3 minutes before finally broke the dry spell with a three-pointer of their own after that Hodge trey. Since then, it became a scramble for the lead as both teams struggled to hold onto the lead as both teams went into the halftime with the Elite leading at 42-40.
Blackwater for most parts, shot better during the first half, making 48% of their shot attempts including 33% from the three-point line. Allein Maliksi led a Blackwater team whose import Henry Walker was offensively absent during the first 24 minutes of play, with 9 points.
Allen Durham kept the Bolts within striking distance with his 11 points and 8 rebounds in the first half while Cliff Hodge led the Bolts with 12 points to his name. One of the reasons why the Bolts managed to keep it close was their defense which forced the Elite to throw the ball away 9 times during the first half in contrast to 4 turnovers of their own. The Bolts also took advantage of the Elites’ turnovers by outscoring Blackwater in terms of points off turnovers, 12-3.
The Elite started the third quarter by building on a 5-point lead but thanks to their inconsistency on both sides of the court, they never sustained a successful scoring as the Bolts answered every basket that Blackwater. The lead eventually grew up to 6 after Henry Walker drilled another three with under 7 minutes to play in the quarter. 
A few possessions later, both Allen Durham and Dave Marcelo for a technical foul after almost getting into a shoving match as both were battling for a rebound under the Bolts’ basket. From that point on, it was an up and down battle as the lead changed hands multiple as the Bolts went nuts after Cliff Hodge dunked that gave them the lead at 62-61 with 21 seconds to go. However, the Elite was able to grab the lead back at 63-62 after Mike Digregorio scored on a lay-up with 4 seconds to play in the quarter. Digregorio for his part, already had 18 points by then.
While most of the PBA fans believed that the Bolts would finish this one in one game, Allen Maliksi had something else in mind when he drained the potential game-winning jumper as the Blackwater Elite held on for a 92-91 victory over the league-leading Meralco Bolts that forced another game to decide who will move on into the semifinals.
Both teams continued their exchange of baskets as Walker scored on a 3-point play only to be answered by Durham who scored on the ensuing possession. Walker followed that up with a three-pointer which put the lead back to 6 with 7:19 to play that forced Norman Black to call for a timeout because Walker has already scored 13 points during the early minutes of the quarter. Mike Tolomia and Jared Dillinger scored a three-pointer a few possessions and Jared added another trey to give the lead back to the Bolts only for Walker to answer right back with another one from rainbow country.
A Baser Amer trey that was followed by a Newsome fastbreak put Meralco in the lead at 84-81 with 3:36 to play and Leo Isaac called for time. With the Bolts only by a point, Newsome added another lay-up approaching the final 2-minute mark with increased the lead to 3 which would go down to two after Walker made one of the two charities on the next possession. Digregorio added another pair of free throws to tie the game at 86-all and Elite left Baser Amer wide open from the three-point line and they paid the price as Amer nailed the three which put the Bolts up 3.
In the ensuing possession, Jared Dillinger as called for a flagrant foul after hitting Roi Sumang with 1:06 to go. Sumang nailed both technical free throws then Maliksi, who came over to the Elite off a trade from the Star Hotshots earlier this conference, scored on a jumper to put his team up by a point, at 90-89 with 33 ticks on the clock. Knowing that his team needed to score, Durham was able to fish a foul from the Elite but missed both free throws.

Fortunately, Newsome was able to snatch important offensive rebound and quickly passed the ball back to Durham who scored off his own missed shot which put his team back up at 91-90 with seconds to work with. Off a timeout, the Elite quickly went to Maliksi who drained a jumper to give the lead back to Blackwater and Norman Black called for another timeout with 9 seconds left. The Bolts weren’t able to score on the next scoring opportunity as Tolomia’s difficult shot rattled out of the basket as time ran out.

Henry Walker led the way with 30 points and 18 rebounds. Mike Digregorio, without a doubt, played one of his best games with the Elite as he added 20 points while Allen Maliksi added 15 points. The Bolts, on the other hand, had Chris Newsome who led them with 19 points while import Allen Durham and Cliff Hodge added 18 points apiece. Durham also had 21 rebounds to his name.
Shooting percentage was what won it for the Elite as they outperformed the Bolts, making 46% of their attempts including 52% of their attempts from the two-point area. In addition to this, Blackwater committed the lesser turnover in the second half. Free throw shooting was also essential to Blackwater’s victory as Meralco missed more free throws, including the last two from Durham.
Scores:
Blackwater – 92
Henry 30, Digregorio 20, Maliksi 15, Sumang 9, Eram 7, Sena 4, Marcelo 4, Canaleta 3, Belo 0, Miranda 0, Banal 0, Cervantes 0, Cruz, 0, Javier 0, Pinto 0
Meralco – 91
Newsome 19, Durham 18, Hodge 18, Dilinger 12, Tolomia 11, Amer 8, Hugnatan 5, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Lanete 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Nabong 0, De Ocampo 0, Faundo 0
Quarter scores:
24-17, 42-40, 63-62, 92-91

Durham, Bolts Erase 18-point Lead, Stun SMB

Meralco Claims Number 1 Spot after Comeback Win

Jared Dillinger scored 16 points off the bench to spark the Bolts’ comeback. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

The good news for the Meralco Bolts is, they only need to win their final game to claim the number 1 spot entering the quarterfinals. The bad news is, they needed to do it against a San Miguel team which they haven’t beaten since 2015.
Nope. Not this time around, Beermen. The Meralco Bolts came back from an 18-point deficit to claim the number 1 spot after stunning the San Miguel Beermen, 104-101.
Hoping to continue their mastery of the Bolts, the San Miguel Beermen jumped to a double-digit lead early on. The Bolts were struggling to get anything going in their offense as the Beermen’s defense continuously forced them into committing turnovers which the Beerman would convert into points on the other end.Throughout the 2nd quarter, the Bolts were struggling miserably as they shot only 37% in the field including a 27% 3-point shooting.
San Miguel for their part, shot way better in the field, making 47% of their shot attempts in the first half including 53% from the 2-point area. The lead went down at 8 after a Baser Amer lay-up with 66 seconds left before halftime. On the ensuing possession, Marcio Lassiter nailed a trey to put the lead back to double-digits. June Mar Fajardo already had 10 points by halftime. So is Marcio Lassiter. So is import Terrence Watson. Meanwhile, Allen Durham did have 10 points but was continuously struggling to make his shots against the suffocating defense of the Beermen which forced him to make only 4 of his 13 attempts in the first 24 minutes of action.
The Beermen continued pouring in the points in the shaded area to start off the 3rd quarter with Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot.Chris Ross who went scoreless in San Miguel’s previous game, another 3-pointer a few possessions later and a shot by Fajardo put the lead up to 17, forcing Norman Black to call a timeout 3 minutes into the quarter.  Fajardo later added another dunk after a bad pass by the Bolts player.
S0an Miguel’s lead then ballooned to 18 points after a jumper by Watson. Meralco tried to chip away at the lead as Mike Tolomia scored on a lay-up to bring the lead down to 16 but the Beermen were able to answer every basket that the Bolts made. Meralco came back roaring as they cut down the lead to 10 with a trey from Tolomia with less than 2 minutes to play in the 3rd. San Miguel brought a 12-point lead coming into the final quarter.
A goaltending violation against San Miguel cut down the Beermen’s lead to 7 in the opening minutes of the fourth as Reynel Hugnatan nailed a jumper to furthermore bring down the lead to just 5, forcing San Miguel Coach Leo Austria to call time.

After back-to-back made baskets by Fajardo, Allen Durham another trey with under 6 minutes on the clock only to be answered by another basket by Fajardo. A pair of charities by Cliff Hodge brought Meralco within 2 with under 5 minutes to play.

After the Beermen increased their lead back to 9, Meralco charged back right away, just trailing 96-92 with under 3 minutes to go until Jared Dillinger drained another trey cut down the lead just to 1. After a Watson basket, Amer scored on another three-pointer to tie the game at 98 apiece with 1:24 to go. Durham gave Meralco its first taste of the lead on a driving lay-up against Fajardo with under a minute to play. Chris Ross answered right back with another trey to give the Beermen a 101-100 lead heading into the final 40 seconds. Durham scored on his own missed shot to put his team back up 102-101 with under 28 seconds remaining.

San Miguel still had one more chance to take the lead but Fajardo’s shot was heavily contested and Meralco was able to grab the ensuing rebound and call an all-important timeout with 4 seconds on the clock. Durham added two more free throws as San Miguel ran out of time on the other end.

Allen Durham led the way for the Bolts with his 35 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Dillinger added 16 while Chris Newsome finished with 14 points. Baser Amer also contributed 13 points. For the losing team, Fajardo had 26 points to go along with his 8 rebounds. Terrence Watson and Marcio Lassiter had 18 points each while Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross finished with 16 and 10 respectively.

While the starters of San Miguel produced their usual numbers, it was the bench scoring that allowed Meralco to mount a comeback and eventually, helped them win the game.

Scores:
Meralco – 104
Durham 35, Dilinger 16, Newsome 14, Amer 13, Hodge 8, Tolomia 8, De Ocampo 6, Hugnatan 2, Nabong 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Lanete 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Faundo 0
San Miguel – 101
Fajardo 26, Watson 18, Lassiter 18, Cabagnot 16, Ross 10, Santos 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Espinas 3, Heruela 0, McCarthy 0, Pessumal 0, Reyes  0, Agovida 0, Tubid 0, de Ocampo 0
Quarter scores:
19-31, 39-51, 69-81,104-101 
Jared Dilinger scored 16 points off the bench to spark the Bolts’ comeback. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Durham’s Triple Double, Newsome’s 28 Lead Bolts

Bolts Winning Streak now at 3

Durham took advantage of an import-less Globalport team (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
A win would mean many things for Coach Norman Black and the Meralco Bolts and one of those things is that they can snatch away the Number 1 spot from the league-leading Ginebra should the Gin Kings drop their game tomorrow and should the Bolts win on Sunday against San Miguel.

On the other hand, a win by a Globalport Batang Pier team who is playing without their replacement import, Jamal Thomas, whom according to the PBA Commissioner’s Office, has violated the height restriction and, their superstar Terrence Romeo would allow the Batang Pier to end the season on a high note.

The first half between the Bolts and the Batang Pier was a roller coaster ride for both teams as the Bolts took an early lead until the Batang Pier, led by a rejuvenated Mac Cardona with 11 points in the first half alone, took the lead midway through the second quarter only to watch the Bolts regained control under the leadership of Chris Newsome and Allen Durham. To give credit to the Batang Pier, they shot a lot better during the early stages of the game, making 50% of their shot attempts including 62% from beyond rainbow country.
But the Bolts knew that the Batang Pier cannot survive playing without their Romeo who is averaging 18 points per game this conference and defending Durham without an import of their own. Come the 3rd quarter, the Bolts came in pouring in the points and pounding the paint area with Durham scoring on a wide variety of ways whether it’s lay-up or a putback knowing that there was no one big enough to bother him.
However, Globalport started chipping on the Bolts’ lead and brought it down to 16, at 91-75 with 5:56 to play in the 4th quarter which forced Norman Black to call a timeout because his team was shooting bricks during the Batang Pier’s 9-1 run before the said timeout. The lead even down to 14, at 91-77 with under 5 minutes to go but a lay-up by Mike Tolomia allowed the Bolts to regain some sense of control, forcing Assistant Coach Eric Gonzales to call a timeout of his own for Globalport.

A Newsome trey later brought up the lead up to 19. But Globalport refused to give up as they even got the lead down to 11, at 96-85 with under 2 minutes to go only to see Cliff Hodge bring that lead up to 13 on an alley-oop lay-up. Globalport got as close as 7 points, at 100-93 but they were already out of time as the Bolts just dribbled away the clock.

Newsome led the way for the Bolts with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Durham finished with another monstrous performance, scoring 22 points, grabbing 22 rebounds to go along with his 10 assists. Veteran big man Reynel Hugnatan added 13 points off the bench. Meanwhile, Sean Anthony led the Batang Pier with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Jonathan Grey played one of his best games in his career, finishing with 16 points while Stanley Pringle had 14 points. Rebounding is one of the major keys for the Bolts as they successfully outrebounded Globalport, 55-38.

Scores:

Meralco 100
Newsome 28, Durham 22, Hugnatan 13, Hodge 10, Amer 9, De Ocampo 6, Tolomia 4, Dillinger 3, Lanete 3, Sedurifa 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Caram 0, Nabong 0, Faundo 0

Globalport 93
Anthony 23, Grey 16, Pringle 14, Guinto 14, Cardona 11, Baracael 5, Cortez 4, Mamaril 4, Arana 2, Hubalde 0, Romeo 0, Celiz 0, Paredes 0, Thomas 0

Quarter scores:

25-20,51-42, 83-64, 100-93

Coach Tim suprised Sol Mercado with his defensive assignment just right before the start of Game 2

If you say import, he must be matched up against another import or a legit bigman in PBA. But in case of Ginebra, it was different.

After exploding for 46 points in Game 1, Allen Durham was contained for only 22 points in almost 41 minutes of playing time.

He was not guarded by Justin Brownlee (Import of Ginebra) or not even Japeth Aguilar. He was mainly guarded by the 6’0 feet tall Sol Mercado.

Sol gives away 6+ inches in terms of height but it seems that Durham was uncomfortable facing Sol as he shoot only 10 out of 24 shots.

But this defensive assignment was extremely suprising for Sol as he only knew it before the game.

“I was suprised actually, Coach Tim told me before the game that I’m going to guard Allen and I just took the challenge. From the beginning I started with Durham, just trying to get him out of his spots. I tried fronting him and run him out of the perimeter, he’s a good player”, Mercado said after they won 82 to 79 in Game 2 of the Finals.

Also Coach Tim Cone said that “You’ve gotta give the credit to Sol, He’s our MVP tonight.”

Durham won Best Import Award but Brownlee leads Ginebra on a critical Game 2 win to tied the series at 1-1

Meralco Bolts import Allen Durham won the best import award over Finals counter part Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings import Justin Brownlee before the Game 2 of 2016 PBA Governors Cup started at Smart Araneta. Durham led the Bolts to their first PBA Finals appearance. But Brownlee had the last laugh after the Gin Kings won the critical Game 2 of the PBA Finals over the Bolts 82-79. Brownlee scored 32 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Gin Kings. Series is now tied at 1-1.

Allen Durham scored 22 points and 15 rebounds on Game 2 for Meralco whose coming from a monster game one performance with 46 points.

Jason Castro also won the Best Player of the conference. Winning his fourth BPC award over San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo, Global Port’s Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle and Alaska ‘s Calvin Abueva.