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Emphasis on strong finish as Meralco nearly blows big lead vs Ginebra in Game 3 win

CAVITE, Philippines, May 23 ------ Meralco may have wrested control from Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, but the way it ended Game 3 leaves much to be desired. Up by as many as 17 points, the Bolts nearly frittered away their lead before holding on to an 87-80 win at the Dasmariñas City Arena on Wednesday, May 22, as they beat the Gin Kings for the second straight game for 2-1 series edge. “There should be no letdown. We all know Ginebra is ‘never say die,’ that has always been their mantra. You saw they did not give up,” said Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo.

Fans rooting for Ginebra went for the exits with over four minutes remaining as the Bolts looked on the way to a blowout after mounting an 83-66 advantage. That sizable lead, however, slowly vanished, with the Gin Kings riding on a 14-2 run powered by Nards Pinto, Von Pessumal, and LA Tenorio to inch within 80-85 with 25 seconds remaining. A pair of missed free throws from Meralco forward Alvin Pasaol kept the comeback door ajar for Ginebra, but Tenorio missed a long three-pointer and David Murrell put too much force on his putback as the Bolts escaped with the victory.

Trillo said his wards need to be on their toes from start to finish, whether they are leading or trailing. “We were shooting our shots that last four, five minutes with 15, 17 seconds [on the shot clock]. Our players should not do that, they should know how to manage the time, they should be in their proper spacing. Our defense has to be sound,” said Trillo.

Allein Maliksi paced Meralco with 16 points, Chris Newsome finished with 14 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Bong Quinto added 10 points and 4 rebounds. Chris Banchero and Cliff Hodge chimed in 9 points in the low-scoring affair and Raymond Almazan contributed 8 points and 9 rebounds.

Japeth Aguilar posted 15 points and 9 rebounds in the loss that saw two of the Gin Kings’ best players struggle offensively. Fresh from scoring a career-high 41 points in their Game 2 defeat, Christian Standhardinger got limited to 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, while Scottie Thompson shot 2-of-13 for 8 points and 9 rebounds.

The two were sat out by Ginebra head coach Tim Cone with eight minutes left in the game as he opted for a different look with hopes of making a comeback. Maverick Ahanmisi ended up as the only other Gin Kings player in double-digit scoring with 13 points.

The Scores:

Meralco 87 – Maliksi 16, Newsome 14, Quinto 10, Banchero 9, Hodge 9, Almazan 8, Caram 6, Bates 6, Torres 3, Pascual 2, Rios 2, Dario 2, Mendoza 0, Pasaol 0.

Barangay Ginebra 80 – J.Aguilar 15, Ahanmisi 13, Standhardinger 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 8, Pinto 6, Cu 5, Pessumal 5, Pringle 4, Onwubere 3, R.Aguilar 2, Murrell 0.

Quarters: 31-18, 48-34, 72-59, 87-80.

Editor's note:

In the first game, San Miguel seized a commanding 3-0 lead in the PBA 48th Season Philippine Cup semifinals after beating Rain or Shine, 117-107. CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, and Don Trollano nailed the key baskets that kept a rallying Elasto Painters' side at bay in the final quarter. Perez had 23 points and 14 rebounds, Lassiter added 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting from threes, and Trollano also posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds for San Miguel. Terrence Romeo added 13 points, all of which in the fourth quarter, Chris Ross had 12 points, June Mar Fajardo had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Mo Tautuaa scored 10.

Beau Belga had 19 points, while Adrian Nocum, Keith Datu, and Jhonard Clarito each scored 14 for the Elasto Painters.



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