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To call Ginebra a rival, Durham says Meralco needs to win PBA title first

ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Meralco import Allen Durham would consider Barangay Ginebra a rival only if the Bolts win a PBA title over the Gin Kings. 

That is what Meralco will try to accomplish as it tries to exact revenge on Barangay Ginebra when they tangle in the finals of the season-ending Governors' Cup for the third time in the last 4 seasons. 

"We got to win a championship first and then we can call them a rival," Durham told reporters, with the Bolts succumbing to the Gin Kings in the Governors' Cup finals in the 2016 and 2017 editions. 

Falling short of the finals last year, Durham made sure he would not suffer the same fate this season, lifting Meralco to an 89-78 win over TNT in their knockout Game 5 semifinals match on Monday, December 23.

Durham, in the running for a third Best Import of the Conference plum, churned out 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists as the Bolts won the last two games of the best-of-five affair to advance. 

"It definitely feels good to be back. It was kind of weird last year not being there, but I'm happy that we're back," Durham said. 

"We're going to enjoy it tonight, enjoy Christmas, and then it's back to work." 

Unlike the last two championship battles against Barangay Ginebra, Durham will have a better supporting cast this time for Meralco. 

The Bolts bolstered their frontline with Raymond Almazan, added a scoring punch with Allein Maliksi, and drafted a do-it-all rookie in Bong Quinto. 

Familiar faces Baser Amer, Cliff Hodge, Chris Newsome, and Anjo Caram will also be there for Meralco – all aching to give the franchise its first title. 

"I think we match up pretty good. I'm excited," Durham said. 

But it will be the matchup between Durham and Gin Kings import Justin Brownlee which will headline the best-of-seven finals series. 

Durham seeks his first championship with Meralco, while Brownlee eyes to win his fourth title with Barangay Ginebra. 

"As a competitor, you always want to play against the best. He's showed that he's one of the best imports in the PBA year after year. It's definitely going to be a battle," Durham said of Brownlee. 

The PBA will take a break for the holidays before the finals kicks off on January 8 next year for Game 1 at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

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.

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