Ginebra channels ‘never say die,’ pulls even at 2-2
True to its “never say die” mantra, Ginebra leaned on a spirited fourth quarter run to outlast Meralco, 88-86, and pull even at 2-2 in what has been an entertaining 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals series.
Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguiao sparked the Kings’ comeback from 16 points down at the start of the payoff period even as Joe DeVance put on the finishing touches in the winding seconds of the game.
“That was a storybook game for Jay and Mark to do their thing out there,” said coach Tim Cone. “They were amazing.”
The old reliables took charge in the fourth, spurring Ginebra’s 25-4 charge to take an 83-78 lead midway in the period that set up the frantic finish.
DeVance nailed a huge turnaround jumper with 25.7 seconds to push his side back up, 88-86, as Allen Durham misfired on a triple in the ensuing play.
But LA Tenorio left the door ajar for Meralco after muffing both freethrows with 7.4 seconds left.
Chris Newsome, though, couldn’t bail the Bolts out, forcing a 15-foot jumper as the time expired.
Game 5 is on Sunday at the same venue with the series now a virtual best-of-three.
Helterbrand, who celebrated his 40th birthday, got all of his 11 points in the fourth on a perfect 4-of-4 clip, while Caguioa added eight markers, three rebounds, two dimes, two steals, and a block.
“We don’t know what they were doing. They were swinging in the wind. They came out and pretty much did everything and saved our series,” said Cone.
The Gin Kings finally got a balanced output from its roster, with Japeth Aguilar topscoring with 19 points, six rebounds, and two blocks.
Tenorio also had 12 markers and four assists even with Justin Brownlee mustering only 10 points and 10 boards on a 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
Meralco also had scintillating run of its own, clawing its way back from a 16-point hole with 32-4 tear to end the third period with a commanding 74-58 lead.
Durham paced the Bolts with 34 points, 20 rebounds, three assists, while Newsome had 15 markers and seven dimes in the defeat.
GINEBRA 88 – Aguilar 19, Tenorio 12, Helterbrand 11, Brownlee 10, Mercado 10, Caguioa 8, Cruz 7, Devance 7, Thompson 4, Marcelo 0.
MERALCO 86 – Durham 34, Newsome 15, Caram 8, Al-Hussaini 8, Hodge 6, Hugnatan 5, Nabong 4, Uyloan 3, Amer 3, Faundo 0, Alapag 0, Guevarra 0.
Quarters: 20-13, 46-35, 58-74, 88-86.