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Bolts not expected to give up without a fight.
Grabbing the series lead, 3-2, is easy. Now comes the hard part.
Everybody at Barangay Ginebra San Miguel knows that closing out against a formidable opponent like Meralco will be the hardest thing to do, and that they have to come up with great resolve to accomplish the task.
That is what the Kings intend to do when they seek to end a long championship drought in Game 6 of their title showdown in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra is up 3-2 following a 92-81 win Sunday behind the efforts of import Justin Brownlee, forward Japeth Aguilar and guards LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado.
In the history of the PBA, 40 out of 53 teams that took 3-2 leads in the PBA Finals went on to win the championship, with 28 of 40 clinching the title in Game 6.
The team will now be aiming for its ninth overall championship, which would tie the franchise with Toyota for fifth and sixth places in the all-time record. It will, however, be the first for Ginebra in eight years or since the 2008 Fiesta Cup.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone, however, understands that it’s going to be tough.
“Without a doubt, closing out the series is the hardest thing to do,” said Cone, who owns the league record for most championships with 18. “Closing out the series to me is harder than winning Game 7.”
“The other team has its back against the wall, and they’re a great team. It’s totally different when you’re playing a lesser team, but they’re a great team and that’s really hard to beat.”
The effort Cone wants to see is the type of performance his team showed in Game 6, particularly on the defensive end when Ginebra’s swarming ‘D’ held Best Import winner Allen Durham to just 20 points – his lowest in this finals – as he went 8-of-18 from the field.
In the team’s Game 2 win, Ginebra guard Sol Mercado held the 6-foot-5 Durham to just 22 points on 10-of-24 shooting. Durham scored 46 point in Meralco’s Game 1 victory.
Cone said they would continue to give Durham different looks on the defensive end, although he mentioned that the Meralco import is so good he compared the versatility of the Bolts import to the late Bobby Parks.
As for the Bolts, Meralco coach Norman Black remains optimistic in sending the championship to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Friday.
But he, too, said they have to be real focused for this game.
Key for Meralco, Black said is to have a good start after they fell behind early in the previous game, which allowed Ginebra to take a 16-point advantage in the third quarter of Game 5, and match the energy of Ginebra to silence the popular team’s ‘sixth men’ that is the crowd.
“It’s do-or-die so we must get off to a good start,” said Black. “We also have to match the energy of Ginebra right from the jump ball.”
“At this point it’s about who wants it the most, so we have to play the type of basketball that got us this far in the tournament. We must play our best basketball now,” added Black.