PBA Finals: Meralco shuts down Ginebra to force do-or-die Game 7

MANILA, Philippines - No confettis and colorful balloons for tonight as the Meralco Bolts tied the series to 3-all after pushing Ginebra to the edge of the cliff, 98-91 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on Wednesday, October 25, 2017.

Meralco levels series, faces Ginebra in Game 7
Allen Durham along with Reynel Hugnatan postponed Ginebra’s victory party as they evened the series 3-3. Photo Credit: Philstar.com
Coach Norman Black tweaked his starters for Meralco’s do-or-die game number 6. Instead of going for Baser Amer, he opted to start Garvo Lanete to provide early firepower for the Bolts. Lanete took the first shot of the game and drew the first blood from the outside followed by another trey by Reynel Hugnatan.

The starting unit of Coach Black worked well for his team as they beat Ginebra in a foot race and garnered an early advantage of 12-4. Surprised by the Bolts’ attack, Coach Tim Cone was forced to waste a timeout to cut Meralco’s momentum.

Greg Slaughter on the other hand, began to heat-up in the shaded area and was unstoppable. Likewise, Allen Durham was unguardable underneath the basket even with Slaughter’s wide arms over him.

First quarter was pretty lopsided in favor of Meralco 29-17.

Ginebra made a 7-0 run as the 2nd period started. But Meralco immediately bounced back to add more digits to its margin that led to another ceasefire called by Coach Cone after seeing a 14-point, 38-24 advantage by the men in blue.

Meralco established its 20-point lead, its biggest so far in the series, in the 4:41 mark of the second. Jared Dillinger who was silent in the opening quarter finally woke up and contributed significant points to his team’s lead.

Justin Brownlee had a fair share in the 2nd period as he tried to get closer with Meralco by draining triples. Ginebra trailed Meralco by 17 points after the 1st half, 54-37. Both imports led all scorers with 13 points apiece.

During the halftime, the gallant soldiers who just came home after their tour of duty in Marawi were introduced to the 54,000 paying patrons inside the Philippine arena and were given a tribute for their bravery and heroism. Players from both teams met the soldiers in the center court to personally thank and honor them.

As the third quarter unfolded, Ginebra finally found its rhythm and managed to cut the lead down to 11. This time, Coach Norman burned an unnecessary timeout to stop the raging Gins.

The Bolts started to turn the ball over and it happened multiple times. Coach Black called a mandatory timeout as Barangay trimmed the margin to just a single-digit or 9-0 blitz from as high as 20 big points in the first half.

Big shot after big shot were unleashed by both squads. Ginebra had the chance to lower the lead to just 6 points but Meralco guards Baser Amer and Garvo Lanete took over the scoring chores of Allen Durham who was neutralized by fellow import Justin Brownlee.

Joe Devance closed the 3rd quarter from the downtown and again brought the Meralco lead down to just 6 points, 75-69.

Meralco had no other choice but to win the game in order to send the series to a sudden death come Friday so they opened the final canto strong and managed to bring its lead back to double-digit courtesy of Hugnatan and Durham.

Cliff Hodge who just got married yesterday uttered a joke prior to the game that their honeymoon is postponed because basketball comes first. Hodge surged and sacrificed his body to protect their lead and to live one more day.

It was really a roller coaster ride for Meralco and Ginebra as both teams exchanged baskets and momentums. Midway of the last quarter, Ginebra found themselves down by 6 points again, 88-82.

At the final 2 minutes of the game, it was still everybody’s ball game as Ginebra was behind by 7 points, 93-86.

Meralco luckily got offensive boards and used the clock wisely. The Bolts patiently held the ball until they found the open man. Reynel Hugnatan placed the icing on the cake with a big trey to postpone Ginebra’s victory party.

98-91 is the final score and both teams will have a day-off to prepare for their grudge match on Friday at the Philippine arena.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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