(Philippine Arena, Bulacan)
7 p.m. – Meralco vs Ginebra
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel fans prepare for a potential championship celebration tonight as their beloved team seeks to finish off the Meralco Bolts in Game 6 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Kings coach Tim Cone, however, is bracing for plenty of pitfalls ahead of the 7 p.m. contest with the Bolts determined to spoil the coronation and force a deciding seventh game for all the marbles.
“Not much to say at this point. Saying is a lot less important than the doing,” Cone said yesterday. “Meralco has shown their ability to bounce back earlier in the series and we expect to see that in Game 6.
“We know we’ll scratch and claw to close this in six. I believe we’re up to the challenge,” he added.
Ginebra closed in on retaining the third conference crown Sunday, pulling away in the fourth quarter behind import Justin Brownlee and Greg Slaughter for an 85-74 victory before a Finals record 36,445 fans.
Brownlee and Slaughter got plenty of help, namely LA Tenorio and Joe Devance as the Kings overcame the absence of Sol Mercado, who arrived in crutches because of a sprained left ankle suffered in the final seconds of Game 4.
Having almost every key player stepping bodes well in Ginebra’s chances of collecting another hardware before its legion of supporters. That is something Meralco hopes to achieve after their key locals struggled again.
Chris Newsome has failed to live up to his status as runner-up to Slaughter in the Best Player of the Conference race. The sophomore forward had only five points, two assists and one rebound before fouling out late in the fourth.
Point guard Baser Amer produced just four points, five rebounds and five assists and Jared Dillinger continued his shooting struggles, going 2-of-12 from the field for six points though he has sacrificed his offensive production to defend Brownlee.
Though shooter Garvo Lanete and backup playmaker Anjo Caram had their moments in Game 5, coach Norman Black wants more help from his locals with import Allen Durham having the carry the heavy artillery for the Bolts.
Durham expressed disappointment over the officiating after Game 5, saying: “I think we just got to hit a couple of more shots, preferably not play 5-against-8 with the officiating, and we just got to play better. Way too many players on the other side got to double figures and we can’t beat them like that.”
The two-time Governors’ Cup Best Import was fined R30,000 by Commissioner Chito Narvasa yesterday, a sanction that left Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo dismayed.