Gin Kings target 2-0 advantage over Meralco Bolts
RECHARGED by a rousing Game 1 victory Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings target a 2-0 advantage in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup when they meet the Meralco Bolts 6:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.
The Gin Kings swarmed all over Meralco import Allen Durham, relied on their size to prevent all inside incursions then watched the Bolts miss their outside shots to post a lopsided 102-87 victory at the start of the best-of-seven title playoff at the Quezon Convention Center last Friday.
On offense Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar dominated inside the paint, Kevin Ferrer and LA Tenorio sniped from outside while Justin Brownlee scored from every spot on the court.
At the defensive end Joe Devance relied on his length and bulk to smother Durham while Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson harried Meralco’s perimeter shooters into missing outside shots as the Gin Kings coasted to the surprise lopsided victory.
The two teams resume their playoff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with Ginebra enjoying not only a 1-0 advantage but a huge psychological edge after beating up on the Bolts up and down the court in Game 1.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone had the better strategy as he relied on size to beat the Bolts from the inside out. The Bolts, playing on unfamiliar grounds, missed from beyond three-point distance badly.
Of course it helped that Ginebra—with 6’11” Slaughter, 6’9” Aguilar and 6’7” Devance—had the much bigger team to start with.
Brownlee even upstaged Durham. The Ginebra import collected 32 points, 19 rebounds and six assists. Durham, who found Devance draped around him every time he tried to score inside—finished with 27 markers, 14 boards and eight assists.
Their confidence buoyed by their inside dominance the Gin Kings then starting hitting their outside shots to take control early and post a big lead.
The Kings jumped out to an early double-digit spread at 29-18 which they stretched to 17, 40-23, before taking the half at 49-35. Brownlee was active early to finish with a double-double at the half with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bolts did not give up easy. They managed to erase that 17-point deficit which was cut to just four points, 71-75, at the end of the third period. That was as close as the Bolts could get as the Gin Kings then stepped on the gas to win pulling away.
Brownlee virtually ran amuck in the fourth as he led a 19-4 Ginebra run which finished off Meralco.