PBA Finals: Ginebra makes it two-in-a-row; Slaughter wins BPC

MANILA, Philippines - Dejavu in the making. Allen Durham won his 2nd Best Import award but lost to Ginebra anew, 86-76 in Game 2 of the 2017 PBA Governors' Cup Finals on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ginebra makes it two-in-a-row; Slaughter wins BPC
Greg Slaughter won Best Player of the Conference Award while Allen Durham bagged the Best Import Award for the second straight time. Photo Credit: Philstar
Prior to the tip off, the Conference’s individual awardees were presented to the humongous Araneta Coliseum crowd. Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter was crowned as the Best Player of the Conference while Allen Durham won his 2nd straight Best Import of the Conference Award. Backtracking to 2016, Durham bagged his 1st Bobby Parks Sr. Award but it didn’t go well for him and the Bolts as they lost to Ginebra, 4 games to 2.

Ginebra’s impeccable speed on the floor became Meralco’s waterloo in Game 1. To counter it, Coach Norman Black forced his gang to run the court and tried to beat Barangay with its own game. Early in the first, the run and gun strategy paid off for the Bolts. But lo and behold, Scottie Thompson came to the rescue with his rebounding and putback prowess that made the game tight.

Ginebra was too prompt to match up Meralco’s agility and intensity and so, Coach Norman Black unveiled his backup game plan: good ball distribution. Meralco took a 9-point, 17-8 advantage due to unselfish basketball of its players: finding the right and open man for the sure basket. With the run, Coach Tim Cone called for a ceasefire to ice the hot shooting Bolts.

Greg Slaughter came off the bench and helped his team caught up with Meralco. On the other hand, Ranidel De Ocampo checked in as well to at least add size to the Bolts and put body on “Gregzilla” in the middle.

After the first 12 minutes, Meralco had the 24-18 advantage over Ginebra.

Both squads started the 2nd quarter without their respective imports. Meralco became a little bit of careless on the floor while Ginebra led by veteran Mark Caguioa began to attack and trim down the lead.

During the Ginebra onslaught, PBA legend and basketball icon Robert Jaworski Sr. entered the venue to support his team. His presence helped boost the morale of Barangay Ginebra and took the lead from Meralco, 28-27 with 7 more minutes remaining in the half.

Old but never forgotten. Despite the limited minutes, veterans Mark Caguioa and Sol Mercado made most of their time on the court. Caguioa alone posted 6 markers that initiated the Ginebra comeback.

It was all Ginebra locals who were giving Coach Black a headache. Justin Brownlee only had 7 points but in spite of his slow start, Barangay Ginebra still managed to post a 3-point, 40-37 lead after the 1st half.

Meralco slightly recovered at the start of the 2nd half. Allen Durham led the way as his team regained the lead, 41-40. Durham, the back-to-back Best Import had already recorded 16 points with over 21 minutes remaining in the game.

After being scoreless for almost 5 minutes, Ginebra finally made a basket through a loose ball converted to a slam dunk from Japeth Aguilar followed by a monster swat. Ranidel De Ocampo however, pulled the trigger from the corner three as an answer to fellow Gilas Pilipinas cager.

Aside from Allen Durham, another notable Bolt was Ranidel De Ocampo. RDO was a perfect aid for Durham in guarding Ginebra’s Joe Devance and Japeth Aguilar while the Meralco import took care of Slaughter. De Ocampo jotted down a dozen boards with one more period to go.

Justin Brownlee who was almost a sleeper in this game, tied the game at 57 apiece with just a minute to go in the penultimate quarter. But Allen Durham sank 2 charities to retake the lead and Garvo Lanete ended the quarter with a trey. 62-57 in favor of Meralco.

LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado combined efforts to level the scores at 62 as the final quarter unfolded.

Meralco relied heavily on its transition offense that resulted to another 6-point lead and cost Coach Tim Cone another timeout.

Coach Cone realized that his team was outrebounded by the smaller Meralco Bolts in entire game so he decided to field in his twin towers to take care of the boards and kick them out to the open man which became effective and tied the game anew, 75-all under 4 minutes of the game.

LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson added 2 points each to widen Ginebra’s lead to 4, 79-75 with 1:44 remaining in the game clock.

Justin Brownlee located the wide-opened LA Tenorio for a seamless three pointer for a 6-point lead. The biggest margin that Ginebra recorded in this game. Tenorio made 2 bonus foul shots to make it 8 under a minute which sealed game number 2 in favor of his team.

Led by 10 points, 86-76, Sol Mercado melted the clock as Ginebra heads to game number 3 with 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 will be on Wednesday, October 18, 7pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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