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Ginebra, Meralco expect ‘tough, rough’ finals series to go the distance

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In a Finals series pitting two evenly-matched teams, Games 5, 6 and 7 will be necessary.

At least that’s the consensus among players and coaches from both Barangay Ginebra and Meralco ahead of their championship rematch.

“As much as we want to have a short series, two tough teams will battle and I think it’s going to be a long one,” Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio told reporters during the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals press conference Tuesday.

“Two great teams, two great coaches. It’s going to be a long, hard-fought series,” said Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, whose buzzer-beating triple won the last season’s title for the Gin Kings in Game 6.

The Bolts and Kings are loaded with firepower but they are also known for being two of the best defensive teams in the league.

And Meralco head coach Norman Black thinks the game will be won on the defensive end.

“I know they’re capable of scoring 100 points and we are too, but I expect this to be a defensive struggle for how many games it will go,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.

Meralco is No. 1 in points allowed with an average of 88.8 points per game while Ginebra is in fifth at 96.7.

The finals is a sequel, but a lot has changed since.

Ginebra now has Greg Slaughter, who just returned from a knee injury at the start of the conference, and rookie Kevin Ferrer.

Meralco also had a major upgrade in adding veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo, rookie Mike Tolomia and guard Garvo Lanete via trades while also welcoming back key player Jared Dillinger.

Dillinger missed the finals against Ginebra due to a hamstring injury.

The Bolts won the two teams’ lone duel in the elimination round, 93-78, in a game where the Gin Kings blew a double-digit lead in the first half.

Game 1 of their best-of-7 series is on Friday at Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.

“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be rough,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.

“You all better believe that this is going to be war. We’re just excited at this point. I’m not sleeping. I woke up at 3 a.m. and I’m ready to go,” Dillinger said.

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