Justin Brownlee may have scored 32 but the Gin Kings were more than just about Brownlee
Defense was one of the reasons why the Gin Kings took Game 1. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Just when everyone, especially the fans of the Meralco Bolts, thought that having a longer preparation time heading into Game 1 was an advantage for Norman Black and his boys, everyone was dead wrong.
After Japeth Aguilar dunked the ball for Ginebra's second basket of the game, it was already a breakaway for the Gin Kings as they led the rest of the way, with a lead which was trimmed down to 3 once during the dying seconds of the 3rd quarter but that was the closest Meralco came within as they faltered in the 4th and fell behind by as much as 21. Result: a 102-87 victory over the defending champions over the league-leading Bolts to open the best-of-7 championship series of the PBA Governors' Cup.
While many had already expected this kind of attitude from Ginebra considering how their series against Talk N Text ended, many were shocked and even disappointed with the Bolts' play all throughout last night and even this basketball pundit was shocked by the fact that Meralco attempted 34 long distance bombs with only 8 hitting the target. That was one ugly shooting night for Meralco but let's not focus on the mistakes of the Bolts.
Below are the things that Ginebra did right which propelled them to win Game 1 in Lucena:
59 Rebounds for Ginebra
One of the major categories which were dominated by the Gin Kings last night was the battle for the rebounds. As the final buzzer sounded in Lucena, Ginebra walked away with a 59-40 rebounding advantage. 21 of those 59 rebounds were on the offensive end which also enabled the Gin Kings to score 16 second-chance points. Justin Brownlee for one had 19 rebounds as part of his dominant performance.
39% Field Goal Shooting for Meralco
If anything, it was Ginebra's defense that proved to be the difference in last night's victory. Why? They forced the Bolts to shoot poorly anywhere on the court whether it was a 2-point basket or one from long distance. Meralco couldn't keep anything going even after coming within single digit heading into the final quarter.
The Result: Ginebra's great D limited Meralco to 39% field goal shooting and that includes a forgettable 8 out of 34 3-point shooting. Jared Dillinger was 2 out of 9 from beyond the arc while Ranidel De Ocampo failed to convert any of his 4 attempts from the same area. Even Allen Durham was clanking all night from deep, missing all of his 5 attempts from rainbow country. Meralco's struggles on the offensive end were also the reason why Ginebra was able to grab 59 rebounds in the first place.
14 Points for GregZilla
Although he shot 5 out of 13 in the field, we cannot simply deny the fact that Greg Slaughter's 14 points to lead the bench players of Time Cone were essential to Ginebra's victory.
Height is might, remember? And Slaughter took advantage of his advantage over every big man that Norman Black threw against him. Result: GregZilla grabbed 8 rebounds to go along with his 14 points and even blocked 2 Meralco baskets in 21 minutes of action. That is what we call efficiency, folks.
Both teams will have a day to prepare for Game 2 which is scheduled to take place tomorrow. If Meralco wants to get back at Ginebra, and have a chance to dethrone the champs, shooting better is a must and so is winning Game 2.
For Ginebra, they already drew the first blood in the series. Keep doing the right things and the back-to-back championships will be theirs to take.