Ginebra is just a win away from the title, outlasts Meralco for 3-2 lead

MANILA, Philippines - After losing two-in-a-row, Barangay Ginebra bounced back and outlasted Meralco Bolts, 85-74 on Sunday, October 22, 2017 in front of over 34,000 paying patrons at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Best Player of the Conference, Greg Slaughter posted 17 points
Best Player of the Conference, Greg Slaughter posted 17 points, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks to help Ginebra gained a 3-2 series advantage. Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin
Both teams have a man down at least due to injuries. Ranidel De Ocampo is out for the series because of calf ailment while Sol Mercado will spend the rest of the season as well in the sick bay with a sprained ankle.

Sol Mercado, who’s marked as the best local defender in the league, hurt his ankle in the dying seconds of game number 4 where he chase blocked Jared Dillinger and landed awkwardly on the floor.

Glue-tight defense was Coach Tim Cone’s main battle plan against Meralco in this game. Luckily, Ginebra got defensive stops early in the opening quarter and converted them offensively.

At the 3-minute mark, it was Meralco’s turn to put pressure on Ginebra. Allen Durham blocked Japeth Aguilar’s potential dunk and Reynel Hugnatan connected from the outside off transition. But Barangay got back immediately and posted a 6-point, 21-15 lead as the 1st period ended.

As Meralco continued to miss in all angles, it looked like the rim got bigger for Ginebra as the 2nd quarter started. The Gins enlarged their lead to 13 in just couple of minutes. Aside from the scoring barrage, Greg Slaughter devoured his defenders underneath the basket where the 7-footer swatted several shots and crushed the boards.

Bad luck really hit the Bolts in all ends of the floor. Their misery worsened as they reached the foul limit too early and clearly exposed the shaded areas for Ginebra which the Barangay capitalized on by slashing and driving straight to the basket without any hesitations.

Allen Durham, Reynel Hugnatan and Garvo Lanete became aggressive in the last phase of the 1st half to help their team caught up with Ginebra. They managed to bring the lead down to a single-digit at the halftime. 42-35 still in favor of Barangay Ginebra.

Meralco blitzed a 7-2 run as the 3rd period began. Reynel Hugnatan really proved that he’s more than willing and worthy to fill in the void which RDO left. Hugnatan provided firepower from the outside that helped the Bolts got closer to Gineba.

LA Tenorio’s offense was really impeccable in the third. The veteran guard had already 15 points with 17 more minutes remaining in the entire game and became Ginebra’s main man as its import got neutralized since the first half.

Garvo Lanete hit a ring-less trey for the equalizer and the game’s first deadlock while Allen Durham muscled his way up against 3 defenders under the basket to gain the lead, 60-58 for the very first time. Coach Cone burned another time out and slammed a chair on the ground due to dismay during the huddle.

Coach Tim’s ceasefire woke up the Gins and they bounced back promptly for the 66-62 advantage after the penultimate quarter.

Allen Durham was relentless in the entire game. During the final period, Ginebra maintained its lead but the Best Import of the Conference tried his very best to prevent the Kings from exploding. Durham was a total workhorse, he even rejected the 7’0” Slaughter’s looper and sent the ball to the crowd.

Multiple turnovers cost Meralco a lot midway of the fourth. Meralco’s careless passes and loose ball fouls gave Ginebra an untimely edge and brought them back at the helm. 81-71 under 4 minutes of the game. Bad news haunted the Bolts even more as Chris Newsome committed his 6th and last personal foul and Justin Brownlee all of a sudden erupted in the pay off period.

Coach Norman Black waived the white flag with more than a minute ago as he pulled out Allen Durham and Reynel Hugnatan with Ginebra led his team by 11, 85-74 until the last second of the game.

Barangay Ginebra having a 3-2 series advantage can finish Meralco on Wednesday for the back-to-back Governors Cup Title.

Game 6 will once again be held on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Philippine Arena.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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