Tenorio's heroics moved the Gin Kings two wins away from another title
Japeth Aguilar picked up the slack left by a struggling Greg Slaughter. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
One squad is aiming to take another step closer to the championship. On the other side, another team is aiming to regain their shooting touch after shooting bricks especially from the outside in the series opener.
After a dominant win the last time around, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings walk into Game 2 with one goal: bury the Meralco Bolts into a 0-2 hole.The only question: Will the defending champions dominate the Bolts like they did after a 102-87 victory in the previous encounter? Or will Jared Dillinger hit his targets this time around after going 1 of 9 from the rainbow country last Friday?
Prior to tip-off, Allen Durham officially received his second consecutive Best Import award while Greg Slaughter won the Best Player of the Conference after missing a big chunk of last season after being advised by doctors to undergo a season-ending surgery for an injury.
With the Meralco Bolts yet again, settling to take more outside shots which yet again, mostly missed, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, through the late game heroics of one of the smallest guys on the court, LA "Tinyente" Tenorio, were able to come through with an 86-76 victory over the Bolts to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 championship series.
The offense of both squads started out flat as the score was tied at 4 apiece 4 minutes into the opening quarter. Later, a double-alley-loop play that was finished by an Allen Durham dunk gave the Bolts, a 4-point edge which was followed by a Ginebra timeout.
Ginebra tied the game at 8 apiece but then Meralco went on a 9-0 run which was highlighted by a three-pointer by Jared Dillinger and a lay-up by Cliff Hodge to give the Bolts, a 17-8 advantage with under 5 minutes to go as Tim Cone called for another timeout. The Gin Kings responded with 6 unanswered points which narrowed the gap to 17-14. Both teams were able to pick up the pace the rest of the quarter as Meralco held a 24-18 lead after 1. Ginebra had yet to click from outside while Meralco already 2 of their 3 attempts from deep in the first quarter alone: one from Dillinger and the other one from Mike Tolomia.
Garvo Lanete began the second quarter by making a three-pointer, increasing the Bolts' lead to 9 anew but Ginebra refused to be buried early on as the Gin Kings clamped down on D and scored the next 6 points to come within 3, at 27-24 on Mark Caguioa's basket and Norman Black called a timeout.Then, Kevin Ferrer, the masked man of the Gin Kings, buried a trey to give the lead back to Ginebra, 31-27 with 6:07 to go as Ginebra was in a middle of a 13-0 scoring blast which held Meralco scoreless for almost 3 minutes.
Finally, the Bolts broke their silence after Allen Durham scored on the inside but turnovers and taking contested shots mired their offense which hampered them too back in Game 1. Fortunately, Baser Amer followed 2 consecutive baskets by Durham with a lay-up of his own to tie the game at 33 all with under 5 minutes before the halftime break. Ginebra then took advantage of their heights as they scored on the 3 different possessions which gave them a 5 point lead with under 2 minutes to play in the first half. Both squads walked into their respective locker rooms for the halftime break with Ginebra holding a slim margin, at 40-37.
Japeth Aguilar led the way for the champs with 10 points and 5 rebounds while Justin Brownlee had 7 points and 7 boards in the first two quarters. Bench production was one of the major keys for the Gin Kings in the first half as the bench of Ginebra was led by Mark "The Spark" Caguioa's 6 points.
Allen Durham, officially a 2-time Best Import awardee, had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in the first half. Chris Newsome had already surpassed his points total in Game 1 as he already had 8 in the first half of Game 2 on 4 of 5 field goal shooting. Aside from shooting better than they did in the series opener, Meralco was also able to take advantage of their opportunities to score on the break as evidenced by their 10 fastbreak points.
Allen Durham began the 2nd half by attacking the paint but Ginebra defenders were able to block him and force another Meralco turnover in the process.
Both teams struggled to get anything going during the first two minutes of the quarter until Baser Amer broke the dry spell on a floater to bring his team with 1 as Allen Durham drained the Bolts' first two charities of the game to bring Meralco up, 41-40.
Off a Ginebra miss, Chris Newsome threw a lob to Allen Durham who finished the play with a slam to make it 43-40 as the Gin Kins remained scoreless for almost 4 minutes during that time- a dry spell that was finally broken by Japeth Aguilar who slammed it home. On the next Meralco possession, Ranidel De Ocampo nailed his first trey in two games to make it 48-42.
Later in the quarter when Meralco was up by 4 points, Scottie Thompson, who was miserable in the free throw line drained a three-pointer to decrease the lead to 51-52 but Durham answered right back with 4 straight points.
Both teams then missed most of their next shots until Justin Brownlee tied the game at 57 all with under a minute to play in the third quarter but Garvo added another three-pointer during the closing moments of the quarter to give the Bolts, a 62,57 going into the fourth period. After attempting ZERO free throws in the entire first half, Meralco shot 11 of 13 free throws in the 3rd quarter alone.
The Gin Kings scored the first 7 points to open the final quarter to regain the lead, at 64-62 only to be answered by a long 2 from Ranidel De Ocampo to tie the game then Baser Amer made it 66-64 on another jumper during the early minutes of the quarter. A sprinting Amer later gave the Bolts, a 73-67 edge on a lay-up which led to Tim Cone calling a timeout approaching the 7-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Meralco still struggled to make their threes like they did in the first game as Justin Brownlee brought Ginebra just down at 75-73 entering the final 4 minutes of the game- a play which forced Norman Black to call a timeout. Refusing to disappear, Justin Brownlee added an inside basket to tie the game at 75 all as LA Tenorio gave the Gin Kings their first taste of the lead in a very long time on a lay-up that made it 77-75 with under 3 to play.
With Ginebra holding a slim margin, Scottie Thompson was fouled by Baser Amer, was sent to the free throw line and drained both charities which increased the lead to 4 with 1:42 to play, to the delight of the fans. Around that time, the defense of Ginebra was actually holding Meralco scoreless for more than 4 minutes until RDO lifted the spell by draining a free throw.
After Jared Dillinger uncharacteristically missed two freebies, the Gin Kings wasted away the clock then the ball landed at the hands of Lewis Alfred Tenorio who drained a long one- with barely 2 seconds left on their shot clock, to give the champs, a 76-62 advantage with 67 seconds left on the clock.To make things worse, Baser Amer tripped and turned the ball over coming off a timeout and the Bolts were forced to foul. Tenorio drained both free throws as the lead ballooned to 76-64 with barely a minute to play. After yet again, another Meralco miss, Justin Brownlee drained another pair of charities to eliminate any chances of a comeback for the Bolts.
Justin Brownlee followed up his performance in Game 1 with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 7 in yet again, another all-around game. Japeth Aguilar stepped up big time to make up for the struggles of Greg Slaughter as the former had 16 points and 8 boards. Slaughter was limited to three points on 1 of 6 field goal shooting Tenorio, arguably the hero of Game 2, added 14 points but had to bleed for his points as he made 5 of his 12 shots which include 3 of 9 from beyond the arc. So how did the Gin Kings win this game despite the struggles from notable players? Anwer: Defense. They limited the Bolts to only make a lowly 36% of their 79 attempts which also include a horrible 21% three-point shooting.
Allen Durham, despite his 25 points and 22 rebounds, failed to knot the series at one game apiece as the Bolts will have two games to prepare for Game 3 especially if they want to make a series out of this one. Both Baser Amer and Ranidel De Ocampo had 10 points each while Jared Dillinger was clanking all night along as he only made 1 out of 7 field goal attempts which a three, one of his 5 attempts from that area. No wonder why they lost. Again.
Brownlee 19, J. Aguilar 16, Tenorio 14, Devance 10, Thompson 9, Mercado 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Slaughter 3, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, Cruz 0, Mariano 0. R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
Durham 25, Amer 10, De Ocampo 10, Hodge 9, Newsome 8, Lanete 6, Dillinger 5, Tolomia 3, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Faundo 0
18-24, 40-37, 52-62, 86-76