By JONAS TERRADO
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
6 p.m. — Ginebra vs Meralco
Game 1: Meralco 104, Ginebra 91
Game 2: Ginebra 99, Meralco 93
Game 3: Meralco 83, Ginebra 74
(Meralco leads series 2-1)
Meralco hopes to avoid repeating the past and gain a commanding 3-1 lead over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 4 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tipoff is at 6 p.m. as the Bolts try to put a stranglehold on the best-of-seven affair and move one step closer towards ending their long finals misery against the Gin Kings and a first-ever PBA championship.
A hard-fought 83-74 win last Sunday allowed Meralco to win two of the first three games, a familiar territory for coach Norman Black’s squad.
It was the same count back in the first battle between the two teams for the Governors’ Cup crown in 2016, but Meralco couldn’t capitalize on the series lead as Ginebra won the next three games to claim the crown.
Black, however, is not dwelling on that missed chance.
“Just live in the present, which is we’re up 2-1,” Black said. “In this business, you can’t really live in the past. Just have to live with what’s going on right now.”
But Cliff Hodge, whose defensive effort keyed Meralco’s Game 3 victory amid fan accusations of being a dirty player, said the Bolts will treat the midweek clash as a game they must win to better their title chances.
“For me, it’s do-or-die,” said Hodge. “We’ll treat this as if it was Game 7, and just try to come up with a win no matter what. Put our bodies, put our lives on the line and just do whatever is possible to get a win.”
Hodge, Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi, Aaron Black and import Tony Bishop will look to put up another strong defensive effort and steady offensive executions in a bid to get another win against the Gin Kings.
Meralco won after forcing Ginebra to a sluggish shooting in the final two quarters and its lowest point output since the start of the conference.
That is what Ginebra looks to improve, especially Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger are expected to continue his all-around production while Japeth Aguilar may finally suit up after missing the last six games due to a calf injury.
Meanwhile, Thompson and Brownlee are likely to be named as winners of the two individual awards that will be handed prior to tipoff.
Thompson is considered as frontrunner for the Best Player of the Conference despite placing second to NorthPort’s Robert Bolick in Statistical Points while Brownlee is ahead in the Best Import derby.
The winners will be determined through 40 percent of the statistics and votes from the media (30%), players (25%) and the PBA Commissioner’s Office (5%).