End is now near
Even one of the gutsiest stands by a player in years failed to stop a rampaging Barangay Ginebra, which is now within a win of claiming a third PBA Governors’ Cup title in four years.
The Gin Kings looked hardly perturbed as injured center Raymond Almazan suited up—and played solidly—for Meralco and went on to crush the Bolts, 94-72, on Wednesday night in Game 4 of their championship series at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We were very methodical tonight in breaking them down on the offensive side,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, the two-time Grand Slam winner who stands on the threshold of a 22nd PBA crown, the most by a mile in league history.
And the way the Gin Kings played on both ends of the floor, it looks like the only question left is when they will make their coronation official. Ginebra takes the first of three shots at the crown in Game 5 on Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Kings floored the gas pedal in the second quarter, peeling away from a defense-heavy first-quarter deadlock at 14 to take a 42-31 lead at halftime on a mix of strong showing by Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson and an even stronger defense on Meralco import Allen Durham.
“We did a great job against Durham. We held him to nine points in the first half,” Cone said.Durham started poorly off the gates, just minutes after winning a third best import award—he is just the second import after the legendary Bobby Parks, who the award is named after, to win more than two best import trophies. Durham, however, has yet to win a PBA title and his third crack is likely to fall short again.NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger, blossoming after the trade that yanked him out of the shadows of San Miguel Beer’s reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, notched his first best player of the conference award.
Brownlee led Ginebra with 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists while Stanley Pringle tossed in 21. Thompson added 16. Almazan, playing with a torn ligament on his left knee, contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and a dose of inspiration to a Meralco crew that thought it had lost its starting center for the series after a bad fall early in Game 3. But that inspiration lasted only a quarter before Ginebra, as Meralco coach Norman Black put it, “pretty much did whatever they wanted to do [to us].”
“We got beat very, very badly for the second game in the hustle stats,” Black said.
Ginebra logged 13 blocks and seven steals against Meralco’s nine and three.
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