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PBA: You don’t mess around with Jim

Game Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Leo Awards
8:10 p.m. – Ginebra vs Meralco
(Game 4)

Bolts hope to shove Kings into 3-1 hole.

Following its gutsy performance in Game 3 Wednesday, the Meralco Bolts try to keep the intensity high as they aim to move closer to winning a first ever title when they battle Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 4 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Norman Black’s team grabbed a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven showdown with a heart-stopping 107-103 win two days ago in front of more than 14,000 spectators.

The game saw Best Import winner Allen Durham register 36 points and 20 rebounds, while Jimmy Alapag, Reynel Hugnatan and rookie Chris Newsome backed him up with solid performances.

Newsome, a strong contender for the Rookie of the Year award, finished with 20 points, Hugnatan contributed 17 as he nailed three 3-pointers – two in the final canto – while Alapag added 18 points off the bench as the new record holder for most three-pointers in the league buried four treys.

That type of performance, Black said, is what they need to do to beat Ginebra in their encounter set at 8:10 p.m., right after the Leo Awards at 7 p.m. as the league pays tribute to top individual players.

“We are getting closer to where we want to be, we really wanted to take this game,” Black said of their victory in Game 3.

The big adjustment of Meralco after losing Game 2 was the aggressiveness shown by Durham, who repeatedly attacked Ginebra’s defense, particularly Sol Mercado, the 6-foot-1 guard who limited him to 22 points.

“He got into foul trouble so we just got to keep attacking him and be aggressive,” Durham said. “When he’s out of the game, it’s good for us. That’s what we got to do (in Game 3),” said Durham.

Meralco will be aiming for a 3-1 lead where only four teams had come back from, including one in the finals when Ginebra beat Shell in the 1991 First Conference finals by going through the hard route.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone said that for them to avoid falling behind, they have to display the same energy they had in Game 2 when the Kings scored an 82-79 win last Sunday at the Big Dome.

Defensively, however, Cone said they have to make several adjustments, particularly on defending Durham as officiating got a little bit tight on calling fouls on Ginebra defenders.

“I felt today the referees had an eagle-eye on him,” said Cone of Mercado. “The stuff that he was doing last game he couldn’t do tonight.

Boy, he picked up six fouls in 10-12 minutes of play. It was tough.”

“If that’s the way its gonna be called against him, then there’s no way we could guard Durham,” added Cone, who owns the league record of 18 championships but is on his first finals with the team.

Overall, though, Cone admitted that they were not at par withe the Bolts in Game 3.

“Defensively, we weren’t good. We just didn’t play to our identity,” said Cone.

“I was upset from the first minute

onward. I was upset for 48 minutes. I just don’t think we played to our identity. If we forgot it, then we’ve got to remember it in a hurry, ‘coz these things gonna get away from us if we’re not careful,” added Cone.

Ginebra import Justin Brownlee scored a personal best 42 points but got little help as only three locals finished in double figures, with LA Tenorio adding 14 points, Japeth Aguilar 12 and rookie Scottie Thompson 10 points.

“We played okay, but maybe we just need a little bit of the guys more involved sometimes at certain points of the game,” said Brownlee. “Maybe I overshot a little bit, but we have to embrace our offense the way we’re playing the entire conference of moving the ball and making everybody involved.”