LUCENA—Shooting a lot, lot better this time around, Meralco on Friday night took on Barangay Ginebra’s never-say-die spirit head-on before pulling out a 104-102 decision that squared their best-of-seven series for the PBA Governors’ Cup championship after two games at the jampacked Quezon Convention Center here.
The Bolts blew a 17-point halftime lead and used the three-point shot with great effect in closing out the third period to right the ship, so to speak, and take a huge confidence boost going into the crucial Game 3 on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Meralco connected on a franchise-best 16 triples, with wily guard Baser Amer making five, as the Bolts weathered several Ginebra uprisings that had the Gin Kings wheeling back from 63-46 at the half to tie it all up at 70 going into the final 2:30 of the third.
“The bench really gave us a lift. Last game they weren’t really there,” Meralco coach Norman Black said.
“It was a little bit scary in the final minutes, but a win is a win,” he added. “It gave us a chance to even the series and we move on to the next game.”
It was a great way for the Bolts to rebound from a stinging series-opening loss on Tuesday, and the series which both coaches said would likely go the seven-game distance seems to be taking that predicted route.
Five locals tossed in twin digits for the Bolts to make up for the somewhat cold offensive night by import Allen Durham.
The prime best import candidate struggled to shoot just 21 points, but with Amer and Chris Newsome shooting 17 each and Raymond Almazan contributing 15 that went with nine rebounds, Black had more than enough men providing support.
Justin Brownlee had his usual numbers with 35 points and 11 rebounds, while Stanley Pringle improved from his lethargic Game 1 performance by finishing with 23 and 10.
Japeth Aguilar tossed in 18 and LA Tenorio 10 in the losing effort as the Kings played catch-up practically the entire night in a venue where they won five of their last six games prior to this one.