PBA Philippine Cup

Not this time: Meralco breaks Ginebra curse in Game 7 for breakthrough PH Cup finals stint

Delfin Dioquino

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Not this time: Meralco breaks Ginebra curse in Game 7 for breakthrough PH Cup finals stint

TAKEOVER. Chris Banchero in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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Meralco flips the script and beats Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-seven series for the first time to earn the right to challenge defending champion San Miguel for the prestigious All-Filipino crown

BATANGAS, Philippines – After multiple tries and years of heartbreak, Meralco finally cracked the Barangay Ginebra code.

The Bolts flipped the script and beat the Gin Kings in a best-of-seven series for the first time following a gritty 78-69 win in the do-or-die Game 7 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the FPJ Arena here in San Jose on Friday, May 31.

Chris Banchero and Chris Newsome carried the scoring load, while rookie big man Brandon Bates delivered a defensive gem as the Bolts earned the right to challenge defending champion San Miguel for the All-Filipino crown.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals is slated on Wednesday, June 5, at the Araneta Coliseum.

“This is big for us. Seven games – could have gone either way. Nobody was being outcoached, nobody was swept. Came down to this last game,” said Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo.

“We have a lot of pride in what we do. We’re going to savor this.”

Banchero turned in 24 points and 6 rebounds, including the floater with under six minutes left that allowed Meralco to grab a commanding 74-58 lead en route to a breakthrough finals appearance in the Philippine Cup.

Newsome supplied 20 points and 6 assists in the win that saw him and the Bolts get the proverbial monkey off their backs after previously holding a dismal 0-6 record in best-of-seven battles.

Four of those series losses came against Ginebra as Meralco fell short of the top prize in the 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2021 editions of the Governors’ Cup.

But the Bolts have had enough.

Down 17-28 early in the second quarter, Meralco ended the quarter on a blazing 19-3 run highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Newsome and one each from Banchero and Bong Quinto to build a 36-31 halftime advantage.

That stretch included multiple shot clock violations on the Gin Kings, who failed to overcome the Bolts’ swarming defense.

Newsome and Banchero continued to take turns in the third quarter as Meralco doubled its lead to 62-51 and protected its upper hand for the rest of the game.

“It feels great, especially in a Game 7. These were always the games that we struggled in to come out and perform. Our guys showed up today and it was really nice to see,” said Newsome.  

Bates turned in arguably the best performance of his young PBA career, putting up 6 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 blocks in an impressive showing that saw him pester Ginebra star Christian Standhardinger.

Standhardinger still tallied 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, but he shot just 6-of-17 from the field and went a cold 4-of-12 from the free throw line.

Inconsistent free throw shooting doomed the Gin Kings as they made just 14 of their 26 foul shots for a poor 53%.

Scottie Thompson put up 20 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals to pace Ginebra, which failed to make a championship series for the first time after reaching a conference finals in each of the last seven seasons.

The Scores

Meralco 78 – Banchero 24, Newsome 20, Quinto 10, Hodge 8, Bates 6, Almazan 3, Caram 3, Pascual 2, Maliksi 2, Mendoza 0.

GIinebra 69 – Thompson 20, Standhardinger 16, Pringle 13, J.Aguilar 8, Pinto 5, Ahamisi 4, Cu 3, Tenorio 0.

Quarters: 15-20, 36-31, 62-51, 78-69. 

– 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.