MANILA, Philippines – Meralco put the shackles on Justin Brownlee and banked on Tony Bishop late to seize a 2-1 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals with an 83-74 win at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, April 10.
Bishop posted game-highs of 30 points and 16 rebounds to go with 2 steals as the Bolts moved two wins away from ruling the best-of-seven series by holding down Brownlee to a conference-low 19 points.
After towing the Gin Kings to a 1-1 series tie with a 36-point explosion, Brownlee bled for his points this time, making just 8 of his 21 field goals in the loss that saw his side get limited to its lowest scoring output in the playoffs.
Ginebra averaged 100.6 points and had never been held less than 85 points in the playoffs.
Chris Newsome also starred for Meralco with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Allein Maliksi rebounded from a scoreless outing with 10 points, 7 coming in the fourth quarter.
“It was very difficult to score out there, so it was just a matter of just getting some stops and trying to hold on as long as we could,” said Bolts coach Norman Black. “We did have some good offensive performances, though.”
Bishop delivered the big hits down the stretch.
The Gin Kings trailed by just a single possession, 71-73, before Bishop threw down a one-handed slam off a Cliff Hodge assist to silence the raucous Ginebra crowd, which made up most of the 16,104 fans who watched live.
Bishop then drained a jump shot with three minutes left for an 81-74 lead as Meralco nailed a 2-1 lead against the Gin Kings for the first time since their 2016 Governors’ Cup finals encounter.
Although held scoreless, Hodge proved to be a difference maker for the Bolts with a pair of crucial defensive stops at crunch time.
Hodge blocked Christian Standhardinger with under four minutes left then drew an offensive foul on the Ginebra star in the ensuing possession as Meralco limited the Gin Kings to just 3 points in the final 7:30 minutes.
What Brownlee lacked in offensive efficiency he made up for in defensive tenacity after pulling off 5 blocks in the first half, where Ginebra led by as many as 13 points and entered the break up 48-40.
Brownlee finished with 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 blocks, and 1 steal in another all-around outing.
The Gin Kings, however, severely missed the lethal scoring Brownlee provides as they tallied just 13 points in the third quarter, allowing the Bolts to grab a 62-61 lead going into the final canto.
Standhardinger put up 17 points and 6 rebounds, while Scottie Thompson saw his third straight double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds go down the drain in the loss.
Meralco 83 – Bishop 30, Newsome 20, Maliksi 10, Black 8, Almazan 6, Quinto 3, Banchero 2, Hugnatan 2, Baclao 2, Hodge 0.
Barangay Ginebra 74 – Brownlee 19, Standhardinger 17, Tenorio 11, Thompson 11, Chan 9, Pinto 5, Devance 2, Tolentino 0, Mariano 0.
Quarters: 27-22, 40-48, 62-61, 83-74.