The Meralco Bolts lived to fight another day, pulling off an impressive 98-91 victory in Game Six against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to force a winner-take-all match for the Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup title on Wednesday at the jampacked Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Allen Durham compiled 28 points and 19 boards in full 48 minutes of action while Reynel Hugnatan delivered 24 points spiked by six three-pointers as the Bolts prevented Ginebra from celebrating a championship in front of 53,642 fans–a new PBA gate attendance record–who were mostly rooting for the Gin Kings.
The deciding Game Seven will be played on Friday also at the same venue.
Meralco’s adjustment in its starting lineup paid dividends. The Bolts started sniper Garvo Lanete for the first time in the series and relegated the struggling Baser Amer as a reserve.
Lanete quickly made his presence felt, scoring eight points of his 15 points in the first quarter to help Meralco establish a 29-17 lead after the first quarter.
He and Hugnatan knocked down the outside shots the Bolts needed to stifle the Gin Kings’ defense. Meralco then dropped a 15-0 bomb in the second frame to build a commanding 44-24 advantage in the first half.
But Ginebra came out roaring in the second half, and managed to trim the deficit to just four points, 90-86, after a Mark Caguioa jumper with just 3:45 remaining.
The Gin Kings however couldn’t catch a break in the next possessions, even allowing Meralco to grab two straight offensive boards down the stretch which halted their momentum. Durham’s layup and Hugnatan’s triple iced the hard-fought Meralco win.
MERALCO 98 – Durham 28, Hugnatan 24, Lanete 15, Newsome 10, Dillinger 9, Hodge 6, Amer 6, Caram 0.
GINEBRA 91 – Brownlee 23, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 12, Thompson 12, Devance 11, Aguilar 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Taha 0.
Quarters: 29-17, 54-37, 75-69, 98-91.