BOCAUE, Bulacan—Barangay Ginebra and Meralco will fight through exhaustion to gain a head start in the PBA Governors’ Cup championship that is now down to a best-of-three series.
The Bolts come into Game 5 carrying the momentum after winning the last two games to tie the series and would try to move on the hill as the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena here hosts the final three games of what has been the closest-fought title series of the season about to end.
“We now have a series, guys,” Meralco’s Norman Black proclaimed after outlasting the Gin Kings in a close endgame for the second straight night on Friday.
“Coming back [from 0-2] down to tie them is a big morale boost for us. But it will still be very tough moving forward.”
“This is the way it should be,” Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone said after the 83-85 loss where his players failed to call for a timeout with under 20 seconds remaining.
“We are playing a very tough team and they have been able to exploit our weaknesses.”
Tip off is at 6:30 p.m. with Meralco shooting to move ahead for the first time in the series and inch closer to the franchise’s first title.
“If you asked me before the start of this series if I would be happy [being 2-2] with them at this point, I would have said yes,” Cone added.
Key players missing
Both will be playing without key players for the remainder of the series.
Meralco’s Ranidel de Ocampo is out because of a torn calf muscle while Cone has ruled out Sol Mercado who twisted an ankle near the final buzzer of Game 4.
Meralco has been successful in holding down Ginebra’s huge roster in the last two games, with its ploy of running keeping the 7-foot Greg Slaughter, the Best Player of the Conference, on the bench in the endgame.
The Bolts also rode out the inspiration given by former Most Valuable Players Jay Jay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa, who beat them here last year.
“The players were just simply determined not to let them (Caguioa and Heterbrand) beat us again,” Black said.