Meralco ties series with Game Two victory

By January 10, 2020Property News

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup finals series is now tied at one game apiece after the Meralco Bolts exacted payback on the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, 104-102, in Game Two on Friday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
Trailed the series entering the contest, the Bolts avoided being buried deeper by the Kings in the series with a gallant stand in the second game to pull even and reduce the series to a virtual best-of-five.
It was a balanced attack for Meralco, led by the 21 points of import Allen Durham. He also had 18 rebounds and six assists.
Baser Amer and  Chris Newsome had 17 points each for the Bolts   in the win.
Meralco had control of the opening half, riding on a explosive first quarter where it established a 36-21 advantage.
It continued to hold sway in the second frame, still up big, 63-46, by the halftime break.
In the third quarter, Barangay Ginebra started to make its move back, using a 10-0 blast to come to within seven points, 63-56, with 8:45 to go in the frame.
The Bolts though would survive the onslaught with Nico Salva providing the offensive boost off the bench.
They extended their lead to nine points, 70-61, in the next three minutes.
The Kings were undeterred, however, tying the count at 70-all by the 2:31 mark.
The teams slug it out the rest of the period with the Bolts eventually winding up on top, 82-76, heading into the fourth canto.
Barangay Ginebra kept the pressure on Meralco and stayed within striking distance to start the final period.
The count stood at 90-84 with 6:14 left in the contest.
Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar tried to rally Barangay Ginebra back but Meralco kept its opponent at bay as it held an eight-point lead, 96-91, with three minutes remaining.
Five points care of Raymond Almazan and Baser Amer in the next 50 seconds stretched the Bolts’ advantage to 10 points, 101-91.
The Kings made a last-ditch effort to get back in the game but they could only come to within two points, 104-102 with two seconds to go as the Bolts held on for the win.  
Mr. Almazan had 15 points and nine rebounds while Nards Pinto finished with 12 for Meralco.
For the Kings it was Justin Brownlee who led with 35 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Mr. Pringle with 23.
Mr. Aguilar had 18 points and eight rebounds.
Game Three of the finals is on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc. named the pool of players for the first window of the qualifiers for the FIBA Asia Cup happening in February .
The 24-man roster, which the SBP describes as a “hybrid” lineup, is composed of top collegiate stars and Philippine Basketball Association campaigners.
Upcoming stars selected for the pool are Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi, Thirdy Ravena, Jaydee Tungcab, Juan and Javi Gomez De Liano, Dave Ildefonso, Justine Baltazar, Kobe Paras and Dwight Ramos.
The first five aforementioned names incidentally were the five selected for the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the 2023 World Cup in a special draft at the annual PBA rookie draft in December.
Joining these players from the PBA are Poy Erram and Kiefer Ravena (NLEX), Ray Parks, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario (TNT), Japeth Aguilar (Barangay Ginebra), CJ Perez (Columbian), Mac Belo (Blackwater) and Matthew Wright (Phoenix Pulse).
Veteran Gilas player Marc Pingris (Magnolia) is also included in the pool while Christian Standhardinger (Northport) is the naturalized player.
Coach of the team is expected to be announced next week but the SBP said whoever is chosen for the job would have it on an interim basis as it continues the search for a full-time coach for the national basketball team.
The team is bracketed in Group A of the qualifiers along with Indonesia, Thailand and Korea.
It will first play Thailand on Feb. 20 and then face off with Indonesia on Feb. 23.
In the qualifiers, the top two teams in each of the six groups automatically qualify for the Asia Cup with the third best teams advancing to the next round of qualification.