BOCAUE — With Meralco’s back against the wall, the local crew finally woke up from its slumber and led the Bolts to a 98-91 victory over Ginebra on Wednesday at Philippine Arena here to force a winner-take-all Game 7 in the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
Allen Durham didn’t have to carry much of the load this time, as he got significant contributions from surprise starter Garvo Lanete and super sub Reynel Hugnatan as Meralco finally found their mark from downtown to hush the record 53,642 in attendance.
“The motivation is just winning. We just wanted to have the chance to play for a Game 7 and we got it,” said coach Norman Black.
With championship series tied at 3-3, Ginebra and Meralco will go for all the marbles in Game 7 on Friday, with another massive crowd expected at the world’s largest indoor arena.
The reigning Best Import scattered 28 points, 19 rebounds, and three assists for the Bolts as he gets one more shot at completing what he regards as his “unfinished business.”
With the Bolts connecting from the three-point land, they pummeled the Gin Kings early, jumping off to a 22-12 lead in the early goings which ballooned to 20, 44-24 midway in the second period.
Hugnatan punished the Gin Kings from rainbow country, going 6-of-12 from three to wound up with 24 markers, seven boards, and four dimes.
Lanete was on-point as well from beyond the arc, pumping 15 points powered by three triples, on top of five rebounds and two assists.
Chris Newsome also flirted with a triple-double with his 10 markers, 11 assists, and seven assists, as he orchestrated Meralco’s standout 12-of-28 sniping from threes this game.
Ginebra, though, came back strong in the second half, unleashing a 32-point third quarter blast and slowly chipped away Meralco’s lead to as low as four, 90-86, with a Mark Caguioa jumper with 3:45 to play.
The Kings, though, could not secure the rebound in the clutch as the Bolts repeatedly got their cracks at the bucket before Durham and Hugnatan delivered the dagger baskets in the final minute.
“I think the two days off did us a lot of good. It helped to revive our legs a little bit and give us
energy. It was still really tough to beat Ginebra. They’re well-coached, they play hard every game, and of course they have the crowd support so they never really get down. And you really have to fight every second just to beat them,” said Black.
The Bolts outrebounded the Gin Kings, 51-41, with Meralco securing 22 offensive boards.
Justin Brownlee paced Ginebra in the losing effort with 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks, while Greg Slaughter chimed in 18 markers and six boards.
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, Aguilar 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Taha 0.
Quarters: 29-17, 54-37, 75-69, 98-91.