Meralco draws first blood in OT shocker.
Written off even before the series began, the Meralco Bolts silenced non-believers by taking everything Barangay Ginebra San Miguel could dish off onto overtime last night in winning Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, 114-109, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Allen Durham made the strongest case for the Best Import award by dominating the extra period, scoring seven straight points to power the Bolts when a disastrous brownout seemed imminent.
Durham unloaded 46 points with 13 rebounds and seven assists.
LA Tenorio, the heart and soul of the Kings’ return to the finals since 2013, pumped life back into Ginebra’s veins after Jimmy Alapag had drained an open 3-pointer and Durham added a free throw to give Meralco a 102-100 lead.
Tenorio used a Justin Brownlee pick on top of the key, broke away from Anjo Caram with a hesitation dribble and banked in a running shot to tie the game with 6.8 seconds to go.
Durham got off a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer but the ball spun out after taking a swirl.
The Bolts import’s next three shots all found their mark though.
With the pro-Kings crowd of 14,522 behind them, the Kings picked up from where they left off in the first 24 minutes as they extended a 53-42 advantage at halftime to as many 58-42, on a jumper by LA Tenorio with 10:28 left in the third period.
Meralco, however, rallied on Allen Durham’s 13 points in the quarter as it trimmed the deficit to 80-75 entering the final frame. A triple by Jimmy Alapag cut Ginebra’s lead further, 81-80, setting the stage for the down-the-wire finish.
Tenorio scattered 20 points in the opening half. He entered the game averaging just 15.40 points in the team’s win in the semifinals against San Miguel Beer but was on fire for the opener.
From a 31-28 deficit, the Kings used a 19-6 blast capped by a jumper from Japeth Aguilar, who fouled out late, gave Ginebra a 47-37 advantage with 3:37 remaining in the quarter.
The popular team led, 52-39, in the second frame on two free throws by the 6-foot-10 Aguilar with 1:07 left.
During that second quarter run by Ginebra, the team shot 8-of-19 (42%) from the perimeter while its defense held Meralco to 3-of-22 (14%), including 1-of-8 from the three-point area.
Tenorio, who is aiming for his first title with the franchise after he came up short during the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup, scored 13 points in the first period. The 5-foot-8 guard converted 5-of-7 from the field with two triples.
Despite the explosion of Tenorio, it was Meralco that dictated the game’s tempo, grabbing a 31-28 advantage as Durham fired 17 points as he missed just one shot on seven attempts, going 2-of-2 from outside the arc and 3-of-3 from the line.
The two teams arranged a first ever finals showdown by beating their respective opponents in the semifinals, with Ginebra dethroning San Miguel Beer, 3-2 in their best-of-five series, while Meralco stunned top seed TNT Katropa, 3-1, in their own five-game affair.
While this marked the first time that the Bolts are playing in the finals stage since joining the pro league in 2011, this is Ginebra’s 22nd stint.