(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6:30 p.m. – Meralco vs Ginebra
(Ginebra leads series 1-0)
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel goes for a 2-0 lead on Meralco in their best-of-seven series for the PBA Governors’ Cup crown today, with expectations of a competitive affair tonight in the familiar confines of the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra made things look easy in Friday’s finals opener at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City, leaning on a torrid start before scuttling Meralco’s comeback bid in the third for a 102-87 victory.
Though surprised with the way his Kings performed, coach Tim Cone believes they also caught the Bolts in their worst form. He expects things to be different in the 6:30 p.m. contest with a big crowd expected to fill the Big Dome anew.
“I thought we’ll struggle out-of-town,” Cone said. “(Meralco) looked a little rusty. They didn’t look real sharp. We just got them on a night where they may not be totally prepared.
“But they’ve been awesome all conference and we expect them to come back, hit shots in Araneta cause that’s where we all play and we’re all comfortable and we expect a battle for Game 2,” he added.
Meralco coach Norman Black disagreed that his squad was perhaps not as sharp as eight days prior when it swept Star in the semifinals. But Black rued his team’s rough shooting marred by 15 misses out of 17 shots from three-point country in the first half that gave Ginebra a 49-35 lead at intermission.
Import Allen Durham took over in the third and allowed the Bolts to move within four, only for Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee and Greg Slaughter to assert themselves in the fourth and restore a double-digit lead that was sustained till the end.
“We shot the ball poorly in the beginning and we had a hard time defending them,” Black said.
Brownlee showed why he has thrived in this stage and dropped 32 points while Slaughter, Joe Devance, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado and Kevin Ferrer did their share in frustrating Meralco all-game long.
Durham himself struggled in the early goings but failed to get a consistent help from his teammates during the botched rally, though Garvo Lanete and Mike Tolomia made key shots in the third.
Cliff Hodge did a decent job on both ends but Chris Newsome, Baser Amer and Jared Dillinger looked like they felt some championship jitters.
Both squads, though, expect them to make up for their struggles tonight.