7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Meralco
(Series tied 3-3)
BOCAUE, Bulacan – The finals rematch everyone expected to be as competitive as the first one is heading to a fitting climax.
Meralco drew plenty of support from its local players, built a big lead before weathering Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s comeback bid in the second half to come away with a 98-91 victory last night and force a deciding seventh game for the PBA Governors’ Cup crown here.
Left disappointed with the result were most of the 53,642 fans – a PBA record – as the Bolts spoiled what would have been the biggest championship party ever seen in the league’s 42-year history.
And coach Norman Black and hardworking import Allen Durham are thankful that their much-maligned locals and veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan came through with their backs against the wall to set the stage for a fight to finish to cap off a 10-month, three-conference competition in the pro loop.
“The battlecry was to play on Friday,” said Black, who had his share of Game 7s both as a player and coach since making his PBA debut in 1981. “We just wanted to win this game to get a chance to play on Friday.”
Durham played all 48 minutes and finished with 28 points, 19 rebounds and three assists. But unlike in Game 5, the two-time Best Import of the third conference had plenty of backup.
Oftentimes disappearing in the series, Chris Newsome had 10 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, Garvo Lanete earned his first start of the finals and converted 15 points on three triples and Jared Dillinger scored nine but those came in timely manner.
Fourteen-year veteran Hugnatan continued his vintage play following the series-ending injury of Ranidel de Ocampo and fired 24 points spiked by six three-pointers, leaving Ginebra coach Tim Cone frustrated with the Bolts’ all-around play.
“Meralco was ready tonight and really executed to perfection,” Cone said. “We tried to make habol throughoit the game, but we just couldn’t get the hump.”
Meralco took its biggest lead at 44-24 on a layup by Dillinger.
MERALCO 98 – Durham 28, Hugnatan 24, Lanete 15, Newsome 10, Dillinger 9, Hodge 6, Amer 6, Caram 0.
GINEBRA 91 – Brownlee 23, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 12, Thompson 12, Devance 11, Aguilar 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Taha 0.
Quarters: 29-17, 54-37, 75-69, 98-91.