Ginebra turns back Meralco in Game 7 to retain Governors’ Cup title

Barangay Ginebra has successfully kept the Governors’ Cup crown after foiling the stubborn Meralco Bolts in Game 7, 101-96, on Friday night at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

Playing in front of record-breaking 54,086 fans inside the venue, the Gin Kings established a sizeable lead before overcoming Meralco’s spirited challenge late in the match to win the series, 4-3, and clinch their 10th title overall.

LA Tenorio, who was hailed as the Finals MVP after norming 13.3 points, 3.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals in the best-of-seven series, saved his best for last as he came through with 26 points built around five triples, and four assists in 41 minutes of play.

Justin Brownlee had an all-around game, tallying 23 points, eight boards, five assists, three blocks, and one steal for Ginebra, which also drew stellar performance from its local crew.

Scottie Thompson flirted with a double-double of 14 points and nine rebounds on top of five steals and two assists, Greg Slaughter collected 12 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks off the bench, Japeth Aguilar had 10 points and five assists, while Joe Devance rounded up the Ginebra players in double figures with 10 markers along with seven boards.

The Gin Kings pounced on Meralco early to grab a 27-19 opening-quarter cushion that even stretched to 52-32 late in the first half, which they maintained in the third period.

Still comfortably ahead by 100-89 with only 1:39 left in the final frame, Ginebra looked like it had the game in the bag already, but Meralco refused to go silently into the night as it took advantage of the Gin Kings’ late game miscues, uncorking a 7-0 spurt that cut the lead to just four, 100-96, 47 seconds to go.

But it was the closest the Bolts could get as Tenorio’s split from the line extended the lead to five, 101-96, and Garvo Lanete’s three-point attempt in the final 22 seconds failed to hit its target for Meralco.

Allen Durham carried Meralco with 26 points, 24 rebounds and nine assists in 48 minutes, while Jared Dillinger finally broke out of his shell with his 20 points on five triples, and five assists that just went for naught.

The scores:

GINEBRA 101 – Tenorio 26, Brownlee 23, Thompson 14, Slaughter 12, Devance 10, Aguilar 10, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2.

MERALCO 96 – Durham 26, Dillinger 20, Hodge 14, Newsome 11, Caram 9, Hugnatan 7, Amer 6, Lanete 3.

Quarter scores: 27-19, 52-37, 81-64, 101-96.

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