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

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. 

By the Numbers: JD and RDO Must Stop Shooting Bricks

The Bolts will need more from these sharpshooters if they are to challenge the champs.

The Bolts were struggling miserably to get anything going in Game 1. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Just imagine how Shaquille O’ Neal’s free throw shooting was especially during his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers and compare it with the 3-point shooting of the entire Meralco Bolts team in Game 1 of the best-of-7 championship series between the Bolts and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and, tell this basketball pundit what exactly did you see. 
From one point of view, the Bolts’ outrageous shooting, especially from the rainbow country during their defeat in Game 1, is what will doom them if they cannot fix that flaw. And let’s face it, with the tremendous disadvantage that the players of Norman Black are facing against the giants of Ginebra which was one of the reasons why Meralco struggled to attack the basket, the other alternative which Meralco could have employed to score was to make it rain from deep and, they failed it. Horribly.
If you want to see and understand how unacceptable the Bolts were performing from the outside  in Game 1 which made Norman Black really mad,  let’s check out the numbers that were produced by two of Meralco’s sharpshooters, Jared Dillinger and Ranidel De Ocampo:

Jared Dillinger:

6 points
1 of 9 from three-point line
30 minutes

Ranidel De Ocampo:

8 points
0 of 4 from the three-point line
28 minutes
Dillinger and RDO combined for 14 points and 1 of 13 shooting from beyond the arc. If not to Allen Durham’s 27 points who also missed all of his 5 attempts from that specific area, the final margin would have been much bigger. 

Conclusion:

If the Meralco Bolts want to avenge last year’s Finals loss that they endured from the hands of Justin Brownlee and the rest of the Gin Kings, Dillinger and RDO will need to perform exactly like they did during the Bolts’ 3-game sweep of the Star Hotshots in their semifinal series particularly during Game 3 when the Hotshots came close to forcing a Game 4 if not to the timely made treys by both shooters especially in the 4th quarter and in the extra period. 
Below are the numbers of both Dillinger and RDO in clinching Game 3 against the Hotshots:

Dillinger:

10 points
2 of 4 from the three-point line

De Ocampo:

13 points
2 of 7 from the three-point line
See? The Bolts had better chances whenever both Jared Dillinger and Ranidel De Ocampo were making more of their attempts from deep rather than missing most of their shots. Why? If both guys fail to figure it out to make it rain instead of shooting bricks as if they are Dwight Howard, then it will be a short series after all. 
Keep in mind, folks: Justin Brownlee can make it rain, too- as we all saw last year at the end of Game 6. In short, for the Bolts to be able to keep up with Ginebra, they can start by making more threes rather than taking shots and clanking them. 
In other words, take smarter shots, right?

Joe Devance vs Jared Dillinger Tale of the Tape, The Tension Brewing Again!

Jared Dillinger has been waiting too damn long for this!

Right after the win of Ginebra against Talk n Text the Filipino American Small Forward of Meralco Bolts took to social media and announced on Twitter:

“Been waiting to damn long for this! Let’s go! This is what we wanted! Finals Rematch!- Jared Dillinger 

Joe is Ready to get his revenge

The 33-year-old PBA veteran could not hold his excitement and is looking forward to once again facing their tormentor last year. Meralco Bolts was the runner-up in the 2016 PBA Governors Cup and he wants nothing else than to avenge their defeat against the crowd favorite Ginebra. 
Dillinger who is one of the main gunners of Meralco Bolts will be facing up against another Filipino- American in Joe Devance. Joe was born in Hawaii and is two years older than Jared at 35. Coincidentally, Jared played his last college basketball in Hawaii, I wonder if they ever saw each other on the island and played pick up basketball?
Just when you thought the dust has already settled Joe Devance also tweeted and he had no reservations when he said that he hates Jared Dillinger. 

Joe Devance Tweets that he doesn’t like Jared Dillinger 

The Much Awaited Rematch 

Last year, Ginebra finished the series in game 6 with a looping shot from Justin Brownlee outside the rainbow country that sends the crowd into a frenzy at the Araneta Coliseum. This year, Meralco Bolts looks to get back and this time they will have more motivation to win, but while this is a team game, we certainly won’t miss the opportunity of pitting two players, especially Jared and Joe. 

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.