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Meralco clinches historic PBA Finals berth with Game 7 victory over Ginebra

Meralco earned a breakthrough appearance in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals after disposing of Ginebra, 78-69, in the do-or-die Game 7 of their semis series, Friday night at a packed FPJ Arena in San Jose, Batangas.

Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero led the Bolts’ second-quarter reversal, erasing an 11-point deficit before the rest of the squad contributed to gain full control of the game in the second half on the way to the historic win.

Not only did the MVP franchise book its first Finals trip in the all-Filipino tilt, but it also marked the very first time that it won a best-of-7 series. Meralco lost in its first six attempts, two of which were at the hands of the Kings.

“This is big for our franchise,” said head coach Luigi Trillo. “We’ve been to other conferences with imports, but this is the first time na all-Filipino.”

The Bolts will meet defending conference champions San Miguel in the race-to-4 Finals set to tip off on June 5 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

It would be an interesting matchup ahead as the Beermen’s lone loss in the elimination round was courtesy of Meralco, 95-92, last May 4 in Batangas. SMB’s bid of sweeping the phase got foiled by that defeat.

“We have made the Finals. We have to put our focus on the Finals,” said Trillo, who’s looking for his second PBA title as head coach after winning his first with the Alaska franchise back in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.

Banchero led Meralco with a playoff career-high 24 points and six rebounds. Newsome made 20 points as the lead guards combined for six of the team’s triples, which included the key hits to turn the game around.

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The two connected on back-to-back treys that capped off their team’s 11-0 run toward a 36-30 lead approaching the last two minutes of the second period, which would put them ahead for the rest of the night.

Banchero would also be the one responsible for pushing their lead to its highest at 16, 74-58, through a floater with 5:42 left to play.

“That was a tough series,” said Banchero. “Not only physically, but mentally. Being down 3-2, with our backs against the wall and everybody against us.”

Bong Quinto contributed significantly as well with 10 points, spiked by a pair of outside shots, alongside three rebounds and four assists.

Rookie Brandon Bates earned plaudits, too, for standing his ground against the more seasoned Ginebra frontline with six points and six blocks.

On the other hand, put to naught by the loss was the 20 points of Scottie Thompson. The former MVP also had 10 rebounds and six assists with four steals but his best game of the series wasn’t enough.

Christian Standhardinger supplied 16 points and eight rebounds while Stanley Pringle chipped in 13 markers for the Barangay, who has now lost to Meralco in the playoffs for the second time in a row after winning the previous six.

The Scores:

Meralco 78 – Banchero 24, Newsome 20, Quinto 10, Hodge 8, Bates 6, Almazan 3, Caram 3, Pascual 2, Maliksi 2, Mendoza 0.

Ginebra 69 – Thompson 20, Standhardinger 16, Pringle 13, J.Aguilar 8, Pinto 5, Ahanmisi 4, Cu 3, Tenorio 0.

Quarterscores: 15-20, 36-31, 62-51, 78-69.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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