Barangay Ginebra will be shooting for a ninth overall title while Meralco is keen to forge a sudden-death game when they collide tonight in Game 6 of the best-of-seven finals of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 41 Governor’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Game time begins 7 p.m.
Euphoric after their 92-81 win in Game 5 on Sunday, the Gin Kings are eager to snatch their first ever Governor’s Cup crown and their ninth overall PBA title since joining the league in 1979. Ginebra started as an expansion team and later became a powerhouse squad after the arrival of Robert Jaworski Sr. in 1984 from the defunct Toyota team.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone sees Meralco fighting all-out in Game 6, emphasizing that a great team with their back against the wall is hard to beat. The Gin Kings’ spectacular 66 percent overall shooting in the field was a huge factor in their victory in Game 5.
“We put our best game of the series together in Game 5 and now our new challenge is to follow it up and not give the momentum back to Meralco,” Cone told The Manila Times via text message. “We expect a big fight-back by them. They’ve been an incredibly resilient team all conference long.”
Though they are a win away from securing a title, import Justin Brownlee and veteran Jay-Jay Helterbrand agreed that beating Meralco in Game 6 is easier said and done.
“We just have to come out hard and stay aggressive in Game 6,” Brownlee said during an interview. “They (Bolts) are not going to give it (title) but we’re not going to give them the momentum. I really love the fans here in the Philippines. We’re going to get the title.”
“Nothing to be guaranteed because they are also a good team. We have to be better both defense and offense,” said Helterbrand. “Because with their back against the wall it is going to be tough to beat Meralco. They are playing with great intensity too.”
Besides Brownlee and Helterbrand, the Gin Kings will also depend on Japeth Aguilar, Dave Marcelo, Chris Ellis, veteran Mark Caguioa, Solomon Mercado, big man Jervy Cruz as well as rookies Earl Scottie Thompson and Aljon Mariano.
Meralco, on the other hand, declared that they would not go down without a fight.
“It’s do or die so we must get off to a good start and match the energy of Ginebra right from the jump ball,” Bolts coach Norman Black told The Manila Times via text message. “At this point, it is about who wants it the most so we have to play the type of basketball that got us this far in the tournament.”
“We must play our best basketball now.”
The Bolts will be banking on veteran Jimmy Alapag and Reynel Hugnatan, rookies Chris Newsome and Baser Amer, Cliff Hodge, Kelly Nabong, Anjo Caram, Jonathan Uyloan, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, swingman Jared Dillinger and import Allen Durham.
“Absolutely, I’m still optimistic that we can tie this series and force a sudden-death game,” said Alapag.
Meralco took Game 1 (114-109) and Game 3 (107-103) but Ginebra won Game 2 (95-92), Game 4 (88-86) and Game 5.