PBA Philippine Cup

In-the-zone Brandon Bates hosts block party vs Ginebra to send Meralco to finals

Delfin Dioquino

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In-the-zone Brandon Bates hosts block party vs Ginebra to send Meralco to finals

STEP UP. Brandon Bates in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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Meralco banks on the defensive prowess of rookie big man Brandon Bates as it finally beats Ginebra in a best-of-seven series to get a crack at defending PBA Philippine Cup champion San Miguel

BATANGAS, Philippines – A rookie made the big difference as Meralco reached the PBA Philippine Cup finals for the first time in franchise history.

The Bolts banked on the defensive prowess of young big man Brandon Bates in securing a 78-69 win over Barangay Ginebra in their do-or-die Game 7 at the FPJ Arena in San Jose here on Friday, May 31.

Bates posted season highs of 13 rebounds and 6 blocks on top of 6 points in 30 minutes as Meralco finally beat the Gin Kings in a best-of-seven series to get a crack at dethroning defending champion San Miguel.

“It’s unreal. I’ve never played in a series like that, especially against Ginebra. The fans are against you, everyone’s against you,” said Bates. “It’s good energy. I love it.”

“Before the game, we were told to be brave, play brave, and I just took that to heart. I was like, you know what? I don’t want to go home. I’m going to play brave.”

His 6 blocks – the most by any player this conference – proved crucial in limiting Ginebra to its lowest scoring output in three years, or since the Bolts beat the Gin Kings, 79-66, in the 2021 edition of the All-Filipino tournament.

With Bates protecting the paint, the Ginebra twin towers of Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar were made to labor for their offense.

Standhardinger still finished with 16 points, albeit on a 6-of-17 shooting, while Aguilar put up just 8 points on a 3-of-11 clip.

“Probably when I was 15, 16. It’s been a while since then. It’s good,” said Bates when asked about the last time he recorded as many blocks.

“I felt like I was in a zone today. I really needed to do that for the team. I’m always willing to do whatever the team needs,” he added.

The eighth overall pick, though, will have his hands full again as Meralco goes up against a mighty Beermen side led by seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.

But Bates is up to the task.

“It’s just about trying the best I can to limit him. You’re never going to stop him. He’s the best big man in the league,” Bates said of Fajardo.

“C Stan is one of the best big men in the league, Japeth is one of the best big men in the league. You’re never going to stop them, but as long as you can limit them, that’s the most important thing.” – Rappler.com

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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.