8:10 p.m. -- Meralco vs. Ginebra
MERALCO and Barangay Ginebra collide tonight in what could be the most crucial part of the series for the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Crucial in the sense that a victory for the Bolts will give them a tough 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, and put the Gin Kings in a deep hole.
That’s the handsome consequence awaiting the Bolts if they beat the Gin Kings in Game 4 set at 8:10 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
There are ominous signs favouring the situation Meralco coach Norman Black is in.
The last time Black’s team led 1-0 and 2-1 in a PBA finals, they went on to win Games 5 and 6 and the title.
That happened in 2001 when he led the now-defunct Sta. Lucia Realty to victory in the Governors’ Cup at the expense of San Miguel Beer.
But that is easily said than done, more so since the Bolts are up against a team that is deep and mentored by no less than league’s most bemedalled coach in Tim Cone.
And Black knows their task is daunting.
“We must be better prepared in Game 4 than we were in Game 2,” said Black.
Black said they are bracing for the adjustments the Gin Kings are expected to make, especially against their import Allen Durham.
Durham, who bagged the best import award days ago, scored 36 points and got ample support from Chris Newsome, Jimmy Alapag and Reynel Hugnatan who combined for 57 points when the Bolts took Game 3, 107-103, Wednesday for a 2-1 lead.
“Defensive rebounding will also be a priority because our initial defense has not been bad, but we have done a poor job of controlling our defensive boards,” said Black, who is looking for his first title in his fourth team in the league.
“Slowing down (Justin) Brownlee will once again be a major focus,” added Black, also a multi-titled coach who has won 11 titles already including nine for SMB, and one each for Talk ‘N Text and SLR.
There’s something positive though for the Gin Kings despite trailing the series.
The last time Cone’s team was down 0-1 and 1-2 in a PBA Finals, they won games 4 and 5, and eventually game 7 for the title.
That happened during the 2013 Governors’ Cup when his San Mig Coffee defeated Petron.