Kings push Bolts to the brink


MANILA — The Barangay Ginebra Kings bounced back from two straight losses to beat the Meralco Bolts, 85-74, in Game 5 of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals Sunday night in a game watched by a record-breaking crowd of over 36,400 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. It was the biggest crowd to watch a Finals game in league history.

The defending champion Kings thus took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series with a chance to wrap it up and win the Governors’ Cup title for a second straight year Wednesday night, also at the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor venue.

Justin Brownlee showed all-around brilliance once again, leading the Kings with 20 points, along with 12 boards, five assists, three steals, and one block, with zero turnover in over 46 minutes of action.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone inserted Greg Slaughter in his team’s starting five for the first time in the Finals in lieu of Japeth Aguilar. The move paid off handsomely as the Best Player of the Conference struck for 17 markers, 16 rebounds, six blocks, and one assist in over 33 minutes.

LA Tenorio also bounced back from a scoreless game in Game 4 to churn out 17 points, six caroms, four dimes, and three steals in over 40 minutes of action. Joe Devance added 12.

Meralco’s Allen Durham led all scorers with 27 points on top of 19 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. However, the Best Import awardee dubbed the Hulk failed to get enough local support, leading to his team’s downfall. Only Garvo Lanete among the locals managed to score in double digits with 11 points.

The feared Meralco backcourt duo of Chris Newsome and Baser Amer were missing in action, with Newsome bleeding for just 5 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Amer could only eke out 4 points.

The Kings led by as much as 18 points in the first half, but the Bolts came charging back in the third to grab the lead, 62-60, with three minutes left in the third period.

But the Kings reasserted their might in the final quarter, clamping down on defense to limit the Bolts to just 12 points in that period while racking up 19 points for the emphatic win.

The scores:

Ginebra 85 - Brownlee 20, Slaughter 17, Tenorio 17, Devance 12, Aguilar 8, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2.

Meralco 74 - Durham 27, Lanete 11, Hugnatan 8, Caram 7, Hodge 6, Dillinger 6, Newsome 5, Amer 4, Tolomia 0, Faundo 0.

Quarters: 21-15, 42-35, 66-62, 85-74.