Ginebra escapes Meralco in Game 7, completes title repeat
BOCAUE — Ginebra didn’t disappoint its legion of fans this time.
With another record crowd trooping to the colossal Philippine Arena here, the Gin Kings completed their quest for back-to-back titles, routing Meralco, 101-96, in Game 7 to win the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Friday.
Delighting the 54,068 in attendance, Ginebra finally showed the hunger it lacked two days prior, leading by as much as 20, 52-32, in the second half courtesy of a Justin Brownlee jumper before holding off the Bolts’ last ditch rally.
It marked the Gin Kings’ first back-to-back titles in their 38-year history and their 10th championship overall.
The triumph further established coach Tim Cone’s lore, as the two-time Grand Slam-winning mentor claimed his 20th title in 30 Finals appearances.
“We held on to another Game 7. It’s amazing,” said the league’s winningest coach. “These Game 7s are the most amazing things to play. You never know what’s gonna happen, you’re never quite prepared for them, we tried to do our best, stay calm, stay focused but there’s just so many pressure.”
Cignal – PBA Press Corps Finals MVP LA Tenorio unloaded 26 points and four assists, including the insurance freebie for Ginebra finally fend off Meralco late.
Justin Brownlee also fired 23 markers, eight boards, and five dimes, while Scottie Thompson chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds, and two assists.
Greg Slaughter won his first PBA title with 12 markers, five boards, two assists, and two blocks, Joe Devance had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Japeth Aguilar got 10 markers and the three crucial boards in the end game to seal the deal for the crowd favorites.
Despite facing a big hole early, Meralco still showed some fight late, with Jared Dillinger anchoring the belated run as he cut the deficit to as low as four, 100-96, with a booming three from the right wing in the final 47.0 seconds.
Tenorio split his freebies to extend the cushion to five, 101-96 in the last 22.6 ticks, before Garvo Lanete muffed his late trey.
“Huge shots. Just huge shots all the way through, and then at the end, we start missing our free throws, we turn the ball over, and it looked like it wasn’t a comfortable win. But overall, the game was exciting,” said Cone.
Allen Durham did all he could in the decider, unfurling 26 points, 24 rebounds, and nine rebounds, while Dillinger had his best showing in the series with 20 markers, five dimes, and three boards.
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