By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ONE win away from repeating as Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup champions, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings go for the jugular when they battle the Meralco Bolts today in Game Six of their best-of-seven championship affair at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Took Game Five, 85-74, on Sunday, the Kings now use the first of the two tries they have to close out the Bolts and race to their second straight Governors’ Cup title and 10th PBA championship in franchise history.
Stared at the possibility of losing the cushion they built in the championship series of the season-ending PBA tournament after opening their bid with a 2-0 series lead had they lost last time around, the Kings broke the Bolts’ winning run although they still needed to sweat it out to get the win.
Greg Slaughter and import Justin Brownlee led the way for Barangay Ginebra in their Game Five win as they proved to be a handful for Meralco down the stretch.
Mr. Slaughter, later named player of the game, finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Mr. Brownlee, for his part, had 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
LA Tenorio had 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals while Joe Devance wound up with 12 points and seven boards.
In the post-game interview, Mr. Slaughter said key for them in the victory was the team effort they put in that allowed them to stay on top of things even when Meralco showed resilience in coming back.
“We won by team effort tonight. And if we are to win the championship we need to play as a team,” said the Barangay Ginebra big man.
For winning coach Tim Cone, getting back their defensive identity in Game Five also spelt a difference.
“Meralco beat us two consecutive times previously because it did a good job in grinding it out which is what it is as a team. Tonight we were able to hold our own against them and did our job on the defensive end,” Mr. Cone said.
EVERYBODY MUST COME TOGETHER
On the part of the Bolts, who showed much effort and grit in leveling the series prior to their loss in Game Five, they know what is at stake and said they will try everything they can to force a sudden death in the championship series.
Meralco coach Norman Black said it would need every player in their roster to contribute if they are to keep their championship hopes alive.
In Game Five, the Bolts’ bench, particularly Garvo Lanete and Anjo Caram, contributed well to their cause but some of the starters did not do so well.
“It helps us a lot if we get contributions from our bench like in today’s game. Unfortunately some of our starters were limited for various reasons. We really need to come together at the same time if we have any chance of coming back,” said Mr. Black after Game Five.
Game Six today will start at 7 p.m.