MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel squeaked past the Meralco Bolts, 82-79, in Game 2 of the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Sunday, October 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings barely escaped from the eager Bolts to level the best-of-7 series at one game apiece.
Sol Mercado came up big in the final minute on both ends of the floor. He first broke the 79-all deadlock with a big two-point basket off an offensive rebound, 81-79, with 28.2 seconds remaining, and later on forced Allen Durham to miss on a jumper to cap off an impressive defensive job on the newly minted Best Import.
“He did a great job just trying to limit his touches,” head coach Tim Cone said. “You got to give that credit to Sol. Because it was such a defensive-oriented game, I think you give it to the best defense and he was really our MVP tonight.”
Justin Brownlee hit a game-high 32 points to go with 12 rebounds and 3 assists, but the rest of the Gin Kings struggled offensively.
“We had a tough shooting night and it just seemed like shots that we normally make just didn’t go in. A lot of in and out especially around the basket,” Cone admitted.
“We said at halftime even though we weren’t playing well offensively we felt it was the kind of game that we play well and win. But the other side of the coin is it’s also the kind of game Meralco wins too because they are a tough defensive team.”
Mercado finished with 12 points, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds while Mark Caguioa chipped in 10 points to round out the double-digit scoring for Ginebra.
After a 46-point Game 1, Durham quieted down to 22 points and 15 rebounds in Game 2. Cliff Hodge added 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Chris Newsome had 10 markers plus 4 assists.
Ginebra bucked a huge Meralco rally in the fourth that effectively overturned a 15-point Gin Kings lead from the third.
Game 3 of this affair will take place on Wednedsay, October 12.
Ginebra (82): Brownlee 32, Mercado 12, Caguioa 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 9, Aguilar 6, Devance 2, Helterbrand 2, Cruz 0, Marcelo 0.
Meralco (79): Durham 22, Hodge 16, Newsome 10, Hugnatan 9, Nabong 6, Amer 4, Caram 4, Alapag 3, Uyloan 3, Faundo 2.
Quarter scores: 24-21, 43-44, 69-60, 82-79.