• Gin Kings, Bolts keen to grab lead in Game 3

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    Reynel Hugnatan of Meralco shoots through the guard of Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra during Game 2 of the PBA Governor’s Cup best-of-seven finals at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

    Reynel Hugnatan of Meralco shoots through the guard of Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra during Game 2 of the PBA Governor’s Cup best-of-seven finals at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

    Crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra and Meralco are both chasing a 2-1 lead when they collide in Game 3 of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup best-of-seven finals 7 p.m. tonight at the Araneta Coliseum.

    Meralco engaged Ginebra in a tight battle en route to a 114-109 overtime win in Game 1 on Friday. But the Gin Kings leveled the series, 1-1, with a slim 82-79 win in Game 2 on Sunday behind Solomon Mercado’s shot in the dying seconds of the game.

    “It is down to a best-of-five so getting win. No. 2 is very important,” Meralco coach Norman Black told The Manila Times via text message on Tuesday. “Offensively, we must do a better job of spacing the floor to give Allen Durham more room to move versus their sagging defense.”

    Durham, who posted 46 points along with 13 rebounds and seven assists in Game 1, bagged the Best Import award after posting an average of 29.4 points, 15.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

    In Game 2, Durham was limited to only 22 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.

    Black also emphasized the value defense in the series. “Defensively, we must find a way to slow down Justin Brownlee. Rebounding will once again be a big key to the game,” he said.

    Besides Durham, veteran players Reynel Hugnatan, Game 1 hero Jimmy Alapag, Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Newsome, Baser Amer, Jonathan Uyloan, Cliff Hodge, forward Bryan Faundo, Ryan Buenafe and Kelly Nabong are expected to deliver for the Bolts.

    The Gin Kings, on the other hand, aim to carry their winning momentum to Game 3.

    “Norman (Black) is going to figure out things to do for him,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “Now the ball is in their court they have to make the adjustments. This is definitely a must win for us. We really have to reach really, really deep to break their momentum. It’s back to square one. We were unfortunate to lose Game 1 but in many ways lucky to win Game 2. Now the winner of Game 3 will be in a position to dictate the rest of the season. That makes Game 3 crucial to both teams.”

    Import Jared Brownlee, who averaged 29.4 points plus 11.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 16 games, will lead Ginebra supported by rookie Earl Scottie Thompson, Mark Caguioa, Solomon Mercado, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Dave Marcelo and Jervy Cruz.

    Tenorio, who had an average of 15.2 points, 4.9 assist, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals in the last 17 games, notched a career-high 36 points in Game 1 but scored a measly nine points in Game 2.

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