Ginebra faltered. And Meralco pounded on
Jared Dillinger had 9 points in Game 6- his highest in the series.
No balloon fell. No confetti rained down. No mob ran to the floor to celebrate as the final buzzer sounded. And most importantly, no championship trophy was hoisted last night thanks to the Meralco Bolts' 98-91 Game 6 victory over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. As a result, both teams will face each other, for the last time, in tomorrow's Game 7 and we can expect that the 53,000+ number of fans that watched last night to be broken, again.
Friday. Philippine Arena. Game 7. Ginebra. Championship. You name it.
The Gin Kings faltered during the early goings of Game 6 and in fact, Game 6 saw Tim Cone's boys failing to take the lead all game long and three reasons were to be blamed why Ginebra is preparing for a Game 7 instead of partying with their fans:
Reynel Hugnatan: The Old Man's Still Shooting
Back in Game 3 when Ginebra was on a verge of taking a 3-0 series lead, one of the oldest men from either side, Reynel Hugnatan exploded for 22 points while making it rain from deep, dropping 7 long-range jumpers. That's 7 threes, folks.
Last night, just when Ginebra thought they could finally celebrate, Reynel Hugnatan was sent into the court just a few minutes after tip-off and drained his first trey of the night just a few possession after checking in.
By the end of the night, the oldie but definitely still goodie Hugnatan totaled 24 points which were built on 6 THREES- including the last one with 16 seconds left in the game to stretch Meralco's lead to 10, for the last time. Aside from that, Grandpa Reynel also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while playing for 37 minutes. No wonder why Norman Black trusts him especially with Ranidel De Ocampo out.
Ginebra was Out-REBOUNDED
Rebounds. Rebounds. Rebounds. This is one statistics that the Gin Kings should have been dominating to begin but what happened in Game 6 was quite the opposite. Even though they were shooting better from the 2-point territory, Ginebra found themselves lagging behind in the rebounding department as Meralco got 51 rebounds as compared to Ginebra's 41.
What was more surprising is that the smaller Bolts actually got 22 offensive rebounds while the giant Gin Kings only managed to grab 12 offensive boards. Allen Durham grabbed 19 boards- 7 from the offensive end. Even Chris Newsome had 5 offensive rebounds. The result: 16 second-chance points for the Bolts.
Ginebra's Bad Habit: Turnovers
18 turnovers in Game 6- converted by Meralco to 25 BIG points on the other end plus 12 fastbreak points. In any basketball game, more so a championship game, the higher your number of turnovers are, the higher the probability that you would lose the game. And Ginebra was uncharacteristically bad in terms of taking care of the orange whenever they had.
Sure, they came within 4 points late in the 4th quarter but their consistent habit of turning the ball over was one of the primary reasons why they lost the game in the first place. The starters of Tim Cone alone, combined for 13 of those 18 mistakes and for any team who is hoping to clinch the title, it's a horrible number of turnovers. Really.
Whether or not Reynel Hugnatan will torch the Gin Kings tomorrow, it's up to Ginebra. Whether or not the Gin Kings will regain supremacy in the battle for the rebounds, it's up to Greg Slaughter and company. Whether or not Ginebra will succumb to make silly and costly turnovers, it's up to the Ginebra players alone.
Ginebra is still heavily favored to win it all because if we look at them on paper, they are the more talented team. And whether or not they will use that talent and every advantage that they to win it all come tomorrow, it's up to Ginebra. Alone.