PBA: Meralco uses collective effort to overcome Standhardinger, Ginebra

PBA Philippine Cup game Meralco Bolts Ginebra Gin Kings

Meralco’s Allein Maliksi (with ball) goes right at the heart of the Ginebra defense during a PBA Philippine Cup game. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

The word “pick your poison” seems to be the running theme after the first two games of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series between old rivals Meralco and Barangay Ginebra.

On Sunday, the Bolts, 103-91 winners that evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1, somewhat succeeded in the ploy that coach Luigi Trillo described as something that was a calculated move instead of being decided on a whim.

“We have to carefully read … what we are willing to give up,” Trillo said following the victory orchestrated inside Mall of Asia Arena despite blowing a 17-point third quarter lead.

READ: PBA: Standhardinger’s career game not enough for Ginebra in Game 2

Meralco sent the semifinals duel back on level terms going into the third game on Wednesday in Dasmariñas, Cavite, with a collective effort powered by mainstays Allein Maliksi, Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge, Raymond Almazan and Chris Banchero.

The combined effort helped buck Ginebra big man Christian Standhardinger’s career-high 41 points and was complemented by limiting the production of Game 1 heroes Stanley Pringle and rookie Ralph Cu.

“We’re OK with just letting one guy go off if that means that everybody else is cold or doesn’t have their rhythm because at the end of the day, all we need is the win,” said Newsome, who finished with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists.

READ: PBA: Tim Cone needs time figuring out Meralco’s game plan

“At the end of the game, if we’re the ones that prevailed, then we did a good job despite how many points our opponent had,” he added. “That’s the main thing, it’s team basketball for us, and we’re doing whatever we do as far as game-planning is concerned to get the win.”

Back-and-forth battle

Meralco remains the underdog when it battles Ginebra again at Dasmariñas Arena, a new sports facility located near the Area 1 public market.

But already with countless playoff battles in their belt, the Bolts know another back-and-forth battle looms regardless of which team has the edge. And Meralco is bracing for coach Tim Cone and his Ginebra staff to try and figure out more how the Bolts play.

“I’m sure Ginebra has a game plan. They want to take some things away from us, [but] we have a game plan too,” said Trillo. “Again, we’re gonna have our hands full because you know they’re gonna be prepared.”

Maliksi topscored with 25 points, his nine converted attempts all coming from inside the arc, while Hodge had another one of those typical gung-ho performances with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Banchero and Almazan scored crucial shots in the fourth, joining Maliksi and Newsome in creating separation from Ginebra after Meralco blew a 60-43 lead early in the third and entered the final period behind by a point.

Pringle scored eight during the Ginebra turnaround in the final stretch of the third but ended the game with 13 while Cu was limited to six points after going for 18 on six triples in Friday’s 92-88 Game 1 win by the Kings.