REPEAT: Ginebra outlasts Meralco in Game 7 thriller

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The Kings clinched the crown once again!

The Barangay shrugged off a late Meralco fight-back, 101-96, as Ginebra bagged their second straight Governors’ Cup Title under Coach Tim Cone in a nerve-wracking winner-take-all Game 7 war in the PBA Finals at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Friday.

The battle was enticed by a record-breaking 54,086 crowd; the most number of fans to watch live in league history.

As expected, both teams started aggressively right out the gate. Ginebra put themselves ahead by five after a Tenorio triple, but the Bolts quickly retaliated to cut the deficit to one, 12-11, with 5:29 to go in the opening period. Then, it was the Barangay’s turn to answer as they blasted a 15-8 run to end the quarter, 27-19.

Meralco came out firing to begin the second canto. Allen Durham, Cliff Hodge, and Anjo Caram strung together six points to inch themselves closer, 31-27. However, Ginebra clamped down on defense and displayed their crisp ball movement as they unleashed another 17-2 rally to build a 19-point bubble, 48-29. Jared Dillinger was not throwing in the towel early. The Daredevil fed an open Hodge inside and knocked down a trey to trim The Kings’ edge to 15, 52-37, at halftime.

Coach Norman Black’s wanted his crew to continue on chopping off the lead as quickly as possible. Hodge sank two free throws to bring the Bolts within 14, 55-41, with still 10:20 to play in the third frame. Scottie Thompson and Justine Brownlee answered with back-to-back baskets from deep to push their lead back to 20, 61-41. The crowd-darlings were able to weather down every Meralco rally in the third as Tenorio connected with a step-back jumper from the perimeter to end it, 81-64.

It seemed like the outcome was already settled with the way things were going heading into the fourth, but the Bolts kept on coming with runs as Ginebra finally collapsed a little bit halfway through the payoff period. Caram provided the spark his team desperately needed as the former San Beda Red Lion helped Meralco get back within nine points, 94-85, with 4:11 still remaining in the game.

Both teams traded baskets down the stretch, but Meralco still refused to let go. Ginebra went on to miss crucial charities that shed some daylight on the former. Dillinger drained a three to bring the Bolts to bring them just two possession away, 100-96, with 40.3 ticks left. Devance went blank from the line, good thing though, Japeth Aguilar was there for the offensive board. Tenorio, then, split from the charity stripe in the next possession. Meralco still had a chance to steal the game, however, Garvo Lanete’s three fell short and Ginebra eventually captured the crown.

Ginebra’s chief playmaker was hailed as the Best Player of the Game with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting clip, five triples, four assists, one rebound, and one steal. Tenorio also had a repeat as Finals MVP of the conference as he averaged 13.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals in the seven-game series.

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