The Meralco Bolts were pushed to the limit in another nail-biter of a game but got the big plays that they needed to survive the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, 107-103, in Game Three of the Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup finals on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco, which is in its first-ever finals appearance, now leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
Import Allen Durham dominated for 36 points and 20 rebounds but he received a lot of help from his teammates.
Chris Newsome exploded for 22 points – 17 of those coming in the second half – alongside seven assists while Jimmy Alapag added 18 points, including four three-pointers.
Veteran Reynel Hugnatan also came up big, hitting three clutch triples in the fourth quarter to finish with 17 markers and eight boards.
The Bolts needed to weather a huge performance from Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who scored 42 big points on them in this game.
The first two periods belonged to the imports – Meralco’s Durham and Ginebra’s Brownlee – who matched each other point for point as they both tallied 20 markers.
No other player was able to score more than six points but it was the Bolts that had the slight edge, 40-38, at the break.
Meralco then got a boost from its local backcourt of the veteran Alapag and the rookie Newsome in the third quarter. The pair broke out, combining to score 15 big points in the period, which they capped with two big plays.
Alapag hit a booming triple with 1:02 left in the period to push his team in front, 69-67, before grabbing a rebound and dishing off to Newsome for a huge slam in transition, 71-67, late in the period.
Newsome, too, made some big plays in the fourth quarter, hitting a jumper and finishing in transition as Meralco opened the final period with seven unanswered points that pushed the lead up to nine, 78-69.
Barangay Ginebra got back into the game behind some effort baskets from Joe Devance and Jervy Cruz before Brownlee took over for the Kings.
The Ginebra import hit a floater and completed a three-point play but both of those shots were answered by big three-pointers by Meralco’s Hugnatan.
Japeth Aguilar got into the act for the Kings, getting open for a dunk and cleaning up the offensive glass for second chance points as Ginebra continued to hang around, 102-98. But Hugnatan again came up huge, knocking down his third three-pointer in the fourth quarter, 105-98, with just 42 seconds remaining.
The never-say-die spirit reared its head for Ginebra in the endgame as Aguilar scored on another putback and Brownlee made a miracle shot from about four steps behind the three-point line, 105-103, with just 11 seconds remaining.
But Durham, who missed two free throws just a few seconds before, made up for it by making two charities to seal the game.
Meralco 107 – Durham 36, Newsome 22, Alapag 18, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 6, Faundo 4, Uyloan 3, Amer 1, Nabong 0, Al-Hussaini 0.
Ginebra 103 – Brownlee 42, Tenorio 14, Aguilar 12, Thompson 10, Cruz 6, Mariano 6, Devance 5, Mercado 4, Marcelo 2, Ellis 2, Caguioa 0.
Quarterscores: 18-20, 48-44, 71-69, 107-103.