Ginebra Pounds on Rested Bolts to Take Game 1
Justin Brownlee outplayed Allen Durham right from the first quarter (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
After sitting out last year's encounter, Jared Dillinger finally got his wish: a rematch between the defending champions, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings against the reloaded Meralco Bolts for the Governors' Cup championship.
While both squads are claiming that this will be a different series compared to last year's series which was won by the Gin Kings in Game 6 after Justin Brownlee's buzzer-beating trey, some things will remain the same. For starters, we can expect Allen Durham to go out there with the same level of intensity which carried the Bolts to their first ever Finals appearance last year.
On the other side, both teams have received upgrades over the course of the last 12 months. For Ginebra, Greg laughter is back and playing again with the Gin Kings while the Bolts got Ranidel De Ocampo whom they got from a trade with the Talk N Text KaTropa. So yes, this is going to be a different series all throughout.
Here we go, folks. Game 1. Gin Kings. Bolts. Race to 4 Wins for the Championship.
Coming off their heated series against the TNT KaTropa, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings took off early in the first quarter and they held a double-digit that they never squandered as they took Game 1 of the best-of-7 championship series after defeating the Meralco Bolts, 102-87
After Baser Amer drained the first two points of the Bolts, Japeth Aguilar rose up for an electrifying dunk to start things out in Game 1.
Both teams were able to score easily during the early minutes of the opening quarter as Chris Newsome came out running on the break and scored on a dunk to make 11-10, in favor of the Bolts. However, both squads were clanking most of their attempts from outside as they combined for 2 of 7 3-point field goal shooting during the first 7 minutes of the game.
Despite their respective struggles from the three-point line, both the Bolts and the Gin Kings were able to make most of their baskets as Ginebra slowly began to run away as Justin Brownlee scored on a dunk plus a foul and made the ensuing free throw to give the crowd darlings a 9-point lead as Greg Slaughter finished the first quarter with another inside shot to make it 28-18 after the first 12 minutes of play. Ginebra shot 61% in the field as compared to Meralco who only made 32% of their shot attempts in the first quarter.
By the time the second quarter came along, Ginebra continued their scoring blast as the lead ballooned to 17, at 40-23 with under 9 minutes to play in the first half, prompting a much-needed timeout from Norman Black. Meralco made a run to cut the deficit down to 12 but the masked man, Kevin Ferrer drained a three-point to put the lead back to 15, at 45-30 approaching the 6:00 mark of the 2nd quarter. Meralco failed to get any sort of momentum during the rest of the quarter as the deficit never went beyond 12 points as Ginebra led by 14, at 49-35 at the half.
Justin Brownlee, who had 46 points in Ginebra's win against Talk N Text, had 13 points and 11 boards to lead the Gin Kings in the first half while Japeth Aguilar had 9 markers. Ginebra made the most of their opportunities as they made 46% of their field goal attempts in the first including 33% from beyond the arc. Turnovers remained a problem for the Gin Kings as they had 9 turnovers in the first 2 quarters of Game 1 as compared to the Bolts who only turned the ball over, 7 times.
Allen Durham was the lone bright light for Meralco as he led the Bolts with 10 points in the first half. Nobody followed Durham's lead as Chris Newsome only had 6 points on 3 of 9 shooting while Jared Dillinger had to settle with a 1 of 6 shooting from the 3-point line. As a team, Meralco only made 2 out of their 17 attempts from outside and that was one of the reasons why the Bolts were never in the game, at least in the first half.
Whatever Norman Black yelled about during the break, it certainly hit the Bolts as they scored the first 4 points of the 2nd half to come within 10 points, 49-39 which forced Tim Cone to call an early timeout with barely a minute in the 3rd quarter. Capitalizing on Meralco's struggles plus turnovers, LA Tenorio scored on 2 consecutive lay-ups to put Ginebra up, at 61-45 which led to another timeout from Norman Black.
Slowly but surely Meralco was able to chip away from the deficit as Cliff Hodge scored on an inside basket to bring down the deficit to single digit, at 65-57 with under 4 minutes to play in the 3rd. Then, Allen Durham finished an alley-oop play from a Mike Tolomia lob to bring his team within 6. Mike Tolomia scored on a 4-point play in the dying seconds of the 3rd but Greg Slaughter slammed it home to give Ginebra, a 77-71 lead entering the 4th quarter.
Sol Mercado drained one from outside to score Ginebra's first three points of the 4th period to put the lead back to double digits. As for the Bolts, they started to miss their shots and they began making mistakes which allowed Ginebra to run away and take a 13-point lead heading into a Meralco timeout with 8:09 left on the clock. Kevin Ferrer was later left wide open in the three-point line, made the shot, gave the Gin Kings a 91-75 advantage and forced, yet again, another Meralco timeout. Justin Brownlee later made another trey for Ginebra to give his team, a 21-point lead as the defending champions were never threatened the rest of the way.
Justin Brownlee scored 32 points, had 19 rebounds and 6 assists. Ginebra's Twin Towers of Japeth Aguilar and Greg showed that height is might indeed as they scored 15 and 14 respectively. The Gin Kings were shooting better in the field, making 47% of their 87 attempts. They also had a 19-8 edge in fastbreak points and a 16-8 advantage in second-chance points.
Meanwhile, Allen Durham, the reigning Best Import, had 27 points and 14 boards to lead the Bolts who faded away in the 4th quarter coming back alive in the closing minutes of the 3rd frame. Baser Amer added 14 while newcomer Mike Tolomia added 10 off the bench. One of the reasons why Meralco fell behind early on and even faltered after coming back into the game was their three-point shooting.
Jared Dillinger only made one of his 9 attempts from long distance. Ranidel De Ocampo was even worst, missing ALL of his 4 attempts from deep. As a result, the Bolts only made 23% of their shot attempts from long distance, a far cry to Ginebra's 38% 3-point shooting.
Related: Tim Cone vs Norman Black
Ginebra - 102
Brownlee 32, J. Aguilar 15, Slaughter 14, Ferrer 11, Tenorio 10, Devance 9, Mercado 7, Thompson 2, Caguioa 2, Helterbrand 0, Jamito 0, Cruz 0, Mariano 0, R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0
Meralco - 87
Durham 27, Amer 14, Tolomia 10, Hodge 8, De Ocampo 8, Newsome 6, Dillinger 6, Lanete 6, Hugnatan 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, Caram 0, Faundo 0
29-18, 49-35, 77-71, 102-87