BOCAUE — As the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals goes to a Game 7, Allen Durham could only look back on the decision he made to return to the country to once again play for Meralco and complete what he regarded as unfinished business.
“This is why I came back. I came back to have another opportunity at it. We were so close last year and we’re in the same situation now,” said Durham on the heels of the Bolts’ 98-91 Game 6 victory on Wednesday to force the winner-take-all tussle.
In danger of losing the title in six games again, Meralco came out just as it should and clobbered Ginebra from start to finish to keep its championship hopes alive.
Durham, who has been one of the main reasons for the Bolts’ resurgence in the season-ending conference, finally got the boost he badly needed from supporting cast in the form of Reynel Hugnatan, Garvo Lanete, and Chris Newsome.
That allowed the two-time Best Import winner to have the space to work inside, firing 28 points, 19 rebounds, and three assists in the victory.
“Everybody stepped up. They knew this game was a do-or-die and we came to play. They played well, they shot well, and we’re a different team when we do that,” he said of the locals. “We’re a really good team when everybody shows up, and that’s what happened tonight. We built the lead, but they’re a great team and we knew they were gonna come back. But we just had to sustain our run and I’m really proud of the guys tonight.”
Pushing the decider, the 29-year-old banger acknowledged how big the opportunity is historically for the Bolts as they close in on potentially their first franchise title.
“I told the guys that we got a real good opportunity to make history, to get that first championship for Meralco. They can win 10 to 15 championships in the future, but we’ll always be the first team to do that,” he said.
But Durham knows that he can’t get too ahead of himself as the Bolts expect a tougher Ginebra side in Game 7 on Friday in front of what is expected to be another record crowd at Philippine Arena.
“We knew that we’re playing a good team. We knew the potential of this series to go the distance, so we’ll buckle down to work and see what we can fix and get ready for Friday,” he said.
“I think everybody is focused, and everybody knows how significant Game 7 is and all we got to do is to perform. We’re gonna come out just as strong, but we got to play it for 48 minutes. After 48 minutes, we’ll be PBA champs.”