QUEZON, Philippines – Meralco proved steadier in the endgame than the last time out to exact revenge on Barangay Ginebra and level the PBA Governors' Cup finals at one game apiece on Friday, January 10.
Baser Amer drained timely triples down the stretch, while import Allen Durham delivered his usual numbers as the Bolts frustrated the Gin Kings, 104-102, at the jampacked Quezon Convention Center here in Lucena City.
Amer, who struggled in Game 1 with only 9 points on a paltry 2-of-10 shooting clip, rose to the occasion in crunchtime with two booming three-pointers in the final 4 minutes that gave Meralco a 101-91 lead.
Ginebra threatened a comeback off an 11-3 run sparked and capped by triples from Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio, but could not complete it no thanks to Nico Salva milking the last 3.1 ticks for the other side.
Durham churned out 21 points, 18 rebounds, and 6 assists as the Bolts ended their four-game skid on the road and won their first match in Lucena City after dropping their first two matches in the Quezon capital.
"It's a huge win for us. It's the only reason we came to Lucena – to try to tie the series up. We did not want to go back to Manila down 0-2. We really had to work for this one," said Meralco coach Norman Black.
Amer put up 17 points spiked by 5 triples, Chris Newsome had 17 points and 7 assists, while Raymond Almazan chimed in 15 points – including a poster dunk on Greg Slaughter – to go with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Nard Pinto, meanwhile, played unconscious by scoring all of his 12 points in the opening quarter, which saw the Bolts wrap up the period with a comfortable 36-21 lead.
Amer picking up two quick fouls in the maiden frame turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Meralco as Pinto replaced the starting point guard and made all of his 4 three-pointers in the quarter.
The Gin Kings, though, displayed composure in the middle quarters and tied the score at 70 behind a Brownlee three-pointer – setting up the wild finish that had the fans on the edge of their seats until the end.
Brownlee chalked up 35 points and 11 rebounds, but all of that went down the drain as Ginebra allowed Meralco to make 16 triples, which is an all-time franchise record in the PBA championship series.
Stanley Pringle backstopped Brownlee with 23 points and 10 rebounds, Japeth Aguilar had 18 points and 8 rebounds, while LA Tenorio added 10 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals in the losing cause.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven affaor will be staged at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, January 12.
Meralco 104 - Durham 21, Amer 17, Newsome 17, Almazan 15, Pinto 12, Salva 9, Caram 5, Quinto 5, Faundo 3, Hodge 0, Hugnatan 0, Maliksi 0.
Ginebra 102 - Brownlee 35, Pringle 23, Aguilar 18, Tenorio 10, Slaughter 6, Thompson 4, Caguioa 4, Mariano 2, Devance 0, Caperal 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarters: 36-21, 63-46, 82-76, 104-102.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.