Veteran Jimmy Alapag and import Allen Durham joined forces in the crucial period of the match to power Meralco’s 114-109 overtime win over Barangay Ginebra in Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governor’s Cup on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Alapag scored 13 points, including a crucial three-pointer late in the regulation, while Durham tallied 46 points on 16-of-27 shooting in the field along with 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.
“There were good things we did tonight and there were bad things also,” Meralco coach Norman Black told reporters during the postgame interview. “We didn’t beat anybody in the first conference. It’s a good time to beat them.”
“We struggled in the first half. Durham is really a driving force for us. Other guys started contributing. We seem to have a good finishing kick these days,” added Black.
Rookie Chris Newsome finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while Reynel Hugnatan contributed 15 points and eight rebounds also for the Bolts. Bryan Faundo added eight points off the bench.
Meralco’s win spoiled LA Tenorio’s career-high 36 points for the Gin Kings.
Game 2 is set on Sunday at the same venue.
Durham started hot scoring 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the field to provide Meralco its biggest advantage, 21-13 in the first quarter. But Ginebra narrowed the gap, 28-31, at the start of the second period.
Ginebra’s Tenorio, who posted 13 points in the first period, scored seven points in the second canto while Joe Devance and Caguioa scored a basket each to help the Gin Kings snatch the lead, 32-31. Tenorio initiated Ginebra’s 20-6 run highlighted by a three-point shot and a lay-up to widen the gap, 49-37. The Gin Kings kept their double-digit advantage after the first half, 53-42.
The Gin Kings outscored the Bolts in the second frame, 25-11. Durham was limited to only three points in the second period on 1-of-5 shooting because of Ginebra’s tight defense. Ginebra also beat Meralco in the rebound department in the first half, 29-23.
Ginebra was still leading, 58-42, through Tenorio’s jumper until Meralco fought back late in the third frame. Hugnatan scored a three-pointer before the buzzer sounded reducing the gap to five points, 75-80, at the end of third period.
Though lagging behind 85-96, in the middle of fourth period, the Bolts managed to pull off an 11-0 run capped by Newsome’s under-goal shot to tie the count at 96-all with less than two minutes left in regulation. Tenorio put Ginebra on top, 100-98, after a reverse lay-up, with 54.4 ticks left.
Alapag delivered the go-ahead three-pointer with 33 seconds to go to help the Bolts seize the lead, 101-100. The Gin Kings couldn’t score and Durham had split free throws that extended Meralco’s lead to 102-100.
Tenorio forced overtime after scoring a buzzer-beating floater.
Meralco outscored Ginebra in overtime, 12-7, to seal the win.
Alapag’s crucial three-pointer in crunch time made him equal Allan Caidic’s all-time high record of 1, 242 three-point shots.
Meralco is aiming for its PBA title since joining the league in 2010 while Ginebra aims for a ninth overall crown and its first Governor’s Cup title.
MERALCO 114 – Durham 46, Newsome 17, Hugnatan 15, Alapag 13, Faundo 8, Amer 5, Caram 4, Hodge 4, Buenafe 2, Nabong 0, Uyloan 0.
GINEBRA 109 – Tenorio 36, Brownlee 17, Caguioa 14, Devance 13, Mercado 8, Thompson 8, Aguilar 6, Cruz 5, Marcelo 2, Mariano 0.
Quarter Scores: 31-28, 42-53, 75-80, 102-102, 114-109