Allen Durham did a little bit of everything and Meralco needed all of it to finally beat Barangay Ginebra, 94-81, and avoid a 0-3 hole in the 2017 PBA Governors Cup Finals Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Durham scored in a variety of ways no matter who he was up against or how many while also anchoring the Bolts’ defense. He was an unstoppable force, finishing with 38 points, 20 rebounds, four assists and five blocks.
“The game becomes a lot easier when you can make shots. Today we did a much better job at making our perimeter shots and a lot of credit goes to Reynel Hugnatan, who stepped up and made a lot of threes for us today,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
“Our defense was solid just like it was in our last game. The difference was we played defense for 48 minutes instead of 44. It’s gonna be tough going forward especially with Ranidel being out but at the same time we still have guys who out there fighting and we will go to war with them,” Black added.
The Bolts, who lost the first two games by double-digits, got a much-needed lift from veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan, who played extended minutes after starting forward Ranidel de Ocampo went down with an injury early.
Hugnatan fired 22 points, going 7-of-12 from long range and grabbed five rebounds in close to 39 minutes of play. His last 3-pointer capped a 19-4 charge by the Bolts in the final six minutes and four seconds.
Durham, the back-to-back Best Import of the conference, scored 23 points in the second half, 13 in the final frame to counter the Gin Kings’ punches.
A jumper by Justin Brownlee gave Ginebra a 72-66 edge with 9:36 left but Durham quickly led Meralco back and his coast-to-coast dunk over Japeth Aguilar put the Bolts ahead, 75-74, with under seven minutes remaining.
Durham continued his rampage. He scored on a reverse layup against two defenders, rejected Aguilar’s shot on the other end, blocked Brownlee then converted a three-point play for an 86-77 buffer with 2:47 to go.
Meralco goes for the equalizer on Friday still at the Big Dome.
Ginebra had four players in double-figures led by Brownlee’s 15 points.