(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
Game 2, best-of-7 FINALS
7 p.m. -- Meralco vs. Ginebra
MERALCO coach Norman Black is talking about focusing on all their energy in their bid to repeat over Barangay Ginebra in the resumption today of their PBA Governors’ Cup finals series that’s expected to be a lot tougher than expected.
“We will just focus on all our energy on winning Game 2,” stressed Black, whose Bolts are bracing for a big Ginebra comeback in today’s Game 2 set at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We know that Ginebra will come out strong so we have to be prepared,” added Black.
The Bolts indeed had plenty of energy to sustain until the most trying times of Game 1 where they came back from as many as 16 points in third quarter and 11 down halfway through the fourth before completing the job in overtime, 114-109, last Friday.
That gave Meralco a psychological headstart in its first ever best-of-7 finals stint -- and in a title showdown at that -- but Black just would not want the Bolts to savor the win, or the Bolts lull into complacency.
“Our focus will be playing better in Game 2 than we played in Game 1,” said Black, who is looking to nail his 12th title in the league and his second for the MVP group, in addition to the title won by Talk ‘N Text when he was its coach in 2014.
Black said they are giving much premium on defense, especially on L.A. Tenorio, the one provided steady fires for the Kings in a sterling performance he capped with a last second shot that enabled the Kings to extend the game in overtime.
As for the Gin Kings, coach Tim Cone was visibly upset with the way things had turned out for the league’s most popular ballclub which had allowed their 16-point lead to go down the drain, no thanks to a big endgame collapse.
“We’re certainly disappointed with our play in Game 1, especially in that 4th quarter and overtime, but we’re not discouraged,” said Cone, who is in his 30th finals stint in the league.
Cone cited the team’s taxing five-game series in the semifinals against San Miguel Beer to have tolled heavily on the Gin Kings in Game 1.
“It seemed the five-game series with SMB took a toll on us we just wore down as the game progressed,” said Cone, the league’s most decorated coach with 18 titles I his growing collection.
“We feel we have a lot more to show in Game 2,” he said.
“Needless to say, however, we need to find an answer to (Allen) Durham. He was just too dominant for us to overcome,” he admitted.
In a memorable night, Durham, a leading contender for the best import award, cut loose with 46 points, hauled down 13 rebounds and dished off seven assists, with Chris Newsome, Reynel Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag complementing him well.
“Durham is really a driving force for us. Other guys started contributing. We seem to have a good finishing kick these days,” said Black.
While the Ginebra-Meralco meeting is a first in the PBA, Cone and Black are meeting for the first time since they met in the Philippine Cup finals in 2014, with Cone then still at the helm of San Mig Coffee and Black for Talk ‘N Text.
Cone swept Black in that finals (4-0), giving the then Coffee Mixers the PH Cup title.
Both Cone and Black had won Grand Slam. Black had it in 1989 when he was still with SMB while Cone has won it twice, first with Alaska in 1996 and in 2014 with SanMig.