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?
Tenorio 26, Brownlee 23, Thompson 14, Slaughter 12, J. Aguilar 10, Devance 10, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2
Durham 26, Dillinger 20, Hodge 14, Newsome 11, Caram 9, Hugnatan 7, Amer 6, Lanete 3
27-19, 52-36, 81-64, 101-96