The Meralco Bolts under veteran coach Norman Black are determined to stretch their lead to 3-1 when they face crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra tonight in Game 4 of the best-of-seven finals of Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governor’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Game time was set at 8:10 p.m. while the Leo Prieto Awards rites begin at 7 p.m.
The Bolts broke the 1-1 deadlock Wednesday night by outlasting the Gin Kings, 107-103, in Game 3. A victory by the Bolts tonight will put them one game away from securing their first ever title since joining the league in 2010.
Black led a number of local hoops teams among them San Miguel Beer, Sta. Lucia Realty, Ateneo De Manila University and Talk ‘N Text to winning championships.
“We must be better prepared in Game 4 than we were in Game 3 for any adjustments they may make especially against our import Allen Durham,” Black told The Manila Times via text message. “Defensive rebounding will also be our priority because our initial defense has not been bad. But we have done a poor job of controlling our defensive boards.”
Meanwhile, Jared Dillinger told his teammates that the fight is far from over, “It is not over yet because those guys will be back on the drawing board and they will make adjustment. It doesn’t mean anything despite we’re leading 2-1 we just have to work harder than the previous games,” he said.
But Dillinger, nursing a hamstring injury he sustained during Meralco’s semifinals game against Talk ‘N Text, will not play in Game 4. “It’s still a day-to-day basis. We are in the finals and we can’t rush things. I’m always here for the team if they need me.”
Durham took charge in Game 3 with an output of 36 points and 20 rebounds. He is expected to lead the Bolts again with veteran players Jimmy Alapag and Reynel Hugnatan, Cliff Hodge, Jonathan Uyloan, Bryan Faundo, Chris Newsome and Baser Amer.
“We just have to continue working hard,” said Durham. “I keep telling my teammates to play more aggressive. My teammates are all good.”
The Gin Kings are up on their toes to avoid a 1-3 deficit in the series.
We didn’t play our game and I’m upset but it is too early to be discouraged. We’ll be coming back in Game 4,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
Import Justin Brownlee, who had 42 points and 13 rebounds in the previous game, will be stepping up for the Gin Kings anew with the support of Solomon Mercado, Earl Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Dave Marcelo, veteran Mark Caguioa and Chris Ellis.
Ginebra is eyeing its first championship title since winning the Commissioner’s Cup in 2008. They are also gunning for their ninth overall and first title in the Governor’s Cup.
Meralco won Game 1 (114-109) while Ginebra took Game 2 (95-92).
Two-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer is again the favorite for the MVP trophy. His closest rival is Talk ‘N Text’s Jayson Castro.