Barangay Ginebra is king of the PBA Governors’ Cup once more after toppling Meralco, 105-93, in Game Five of the Finals Friday evening at a packed SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Gin Kings have successfully regained their throne after losing it to eventual champions Magnolia Hotshots in the semifinals of last year’s edition of the season-ending conference.
The crowd darlings have now won their third Governors’ Cup championship in four years, which all came at the expense of the Bolts. Ginebra now has 12 PBA titles in its collection.
“Our guys played great,” expressed coach Tim Cone, who has increased his record PBA championship count to 22. “If you beat a team like Meralco three straight times, that’s really something.”
Japeth Aguilar took home the PBA Press Corps-Honda Finals Most Valuable Player award as he led the Barangay with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting on top of eight rebounds and four blocks.
Justin Brownlee made 24 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds as he won his fourth PBA championship. Stanley Pringle produced 17 points and eight boards as he got his first ring.
Scottie Thompson was all over the place with 14 points, nine boards, and six dimes while lead floor general LA Tenorio added 12 markers as all starters finished in double figures in the win.
“Japeth was awesome all series long. Defensively, offensively, making big shots, making big blocks. And of course Stanley, Justin, LA. We can go down the list. Scottie,” Cone lauded.
Ginebra overcame a 14-point deficit in the second quarter with a strong third period surge, unloading a 14-1 blitz to take a 66-60 advantage with 2:45 remaining in the said chapter.
The Bolts fought back and tied it at 77-all in the final frame but that proved to be their last hurrah. From a slim two-point lead, the Gin Kings made a 15-4 run for a 99-86 edge to put the game away.
“I’m just glad we didn’t have to go to a Game Six or Game Seven. As a team, you don’t want to give momentum to and we were able to kind of kill their momentum to start third and that was key,” Cone said.
Three-time Best Import Allen Durham led Meralco with a near-triple-double of 29 points, 21 rebounds, and eight assists.
Baser Amer supplied 17 points on 17 attempts, four rebounds, and three assists. Chris Newsome made 13 points, five boards, and five dimes, as Cliff Hodge chipped in 10 markers.
Raymond Almazan did not play for the Bolts anymore in Game Five. The 6-foot-8 center saw action in Game Four even if he was already diagnosed with a lateral meniscal tear in his left knee.
“Faced a lot of adversity in this series. We lost our big men in the third game, first quarter and we never seemed to be the same team again,” assessed Meralco head coach Norman Black.
Ginebra (105) — Aguilar 25, Brownlee 24, Pringle 17, Thompson 14, Tenorio 12, Mariano 6, Devance 3, Dela Cruz 2, Slaughter 2, Dillinger 0.
Meralco (93) — Durham 29, Amer 17, Newsome 13, Hodge 10, Quinto 9, Maliksi 9, Faundo 2, Pinto 2, Caram 2.
Quarterscores: 19-26, 40-46, 70-64, 105-93.