Gine­bra Kings, Mer­alco start fi­nals se­ries to­day

An­a­lyst sees dif­fer­ent kind of se­ries from last year

Business World - - WORLD SPORTS - By Michael An­gelo S. Murillo Se­nior Re­porter

FOR the sec­ond year in a row, the Barangay Gine­bra San Miguel Kings and Mer­alco Bolts will dis­pute the cham­pi­onship for the Philip­pine Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (PBA) Gov­er­nors’ Cup, be­gin­ning to­day in Game One of their best-of­seven fi­nals se­ries in Lu­cena City in Que­zon Prov­ince.

Hap­pen­ing at the Que­zon Con­ven­tion Cen­ter at 7 p.m., the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Kings and Bolts try to draw first flood and move a step closer to bag­ging the ti­tle for the sea­son-end­ing PBA con­fer­ence.

Barangay Gine­bra seized the Gov­er­nors’ Cup ti­tle last year over Mer­alco in six games and is look­ing to do a re­peat of it while the Bolts have their sights set on re­deem­ing them­selves and bag­ging their firstever PBA crown.

The Kings got the bet­ter of the TNT KaTropa in their semi­fi­nal match, three games to one, to barge into the fi­nals anew where they are hop­ing to win their 10th ti­tle in fran­chise his­tory.

Justin Brown­lee, the man that towed the Kings to last year’s ti­tle con­quest, is lead­ing the team anew with av­er­ages of 24.6 points, 11.3 re­bounds, 4.6 as­sists, 1.6 steals and 2.2 blocks.

LA Teno­rio has been post­ing 15 points, 5.4 as­sists and 1.6 steals per ball game while big man Greg Slaugh­ter, who missed their cham­pi­onship run last year be­cause of in­jury, has been go­ing for 14.7 points, 8.8 re­bounds and 1.6 blocks.

Joe De­vance and Japeth Aguilar are the two other Barangay Gine­bra play­ers scor­ing in dou­ble dig­its with norms of 12.2 and 11.1 points, re­spec­tively, while also com­bin­ing for 12 re­bounds per con­test.

On the other end, lead­ing the re­demp­tion bid of Mer­alco is reign­ing best im­port Allen Durham, who has been im­pres­sive again with num­bers of 25.4 points, 20.1 re­bounds, 6.8 as­sists and 1.3 blocks.

Baser Amer has been back­stop­ping their im­port well with av­er­ages of 14.3 points and 4.3 as­sists with Chris New­some also good for 13.1 points, 6.3 re­bounds and five as­sists.

Vet­er­ans Jared Dillinger and Ranidel de Ocampo, mean­while, are go­ing for 10.4 points and nine points, re­spec­tively, for the Bolts, which swept the Star Hot­shots in their Fi­nal Four en­counter pre­vi­ously.

In their lone game in the PBA Gov­er­nors’ Cup elim­i­na­tion round this year, Mer­alco beat Barangay Gine­bra, 93-78.

A DIF­FER­ENT KIND OF SE­RIES

While the Gov­er­nors’ Cup fi­nals will fea­ture a re­match of the pro­tag­o­nists last year, lo­cal bas­ket­ball an­a­lyst and sports­writer Levi Verora, Jr. said fans should ex­pect a dif­fer­ent kind of se­ries from the year be­fore.

“There a lot of dif­fer­ences be­tween this year’s se­ries and a sea­son ago. For Mer­alco it is vastly im­proved with the ad­di­tion of Ranidel de Ocampo and the devel­op­ment of its back­court, par­tic­u­larly Baser Amer,” said Mr. Verora, who writes for SLAM mag­a­zine and cov­ers games of the PBA and the ASEAN Bas­ket­ball League, when asked by Busi­nessWorld for his fi­nals thoughts.

“De Ocampo gives them an ex­tra re­bounder as well as a steady­ing pres­ence who has won it all. Amer has im­pres­sively upped his game in just a short time and taken over well from Jimmy Ala­pag. The back court has also been shored up with the ac­qui­si­tion of Mike Tolo­mia and Garvo Lanete,” the an­a­lyst said.

“Over at Gine­bra, the big­gest dif­fer­ence is the pres­ence of Greg Slaugh­ter. He gives Tim Cone the flex­i­bil­ity to go with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions, be it a tall or small lineup,” Mr. Verora said.

See­ing how the two teams han­dled their af­fairs in the road to the cham­pi­onship, the an­a­lyst said both Barangay Gine­bra and Mer­alco have what it takes to see their re­spec­tive causes through.

“Gine­bra has to stick to its sys­tem that has done it good. They have to main­tain their balance and con­tinue to be de­lib­er­ate, which is their strength. Key for Mer­alco, mean­while, is re­bound­ing. They have to con­trol the boards as the Kings are tougher to stop if they get their way in re­bounds. The Bolts, too, have to con­tinue shoot­ing well, with guys like Amer, Dillinger and, even, New­some,” Mr. Verora shared.

As to who gets to bring home the ti­tle this year, the an­a­lyst said it is truly tough to pre­dict.

“This is one of the tough­est se­ries to pre­dict in re­cent PBA his­tory. They have a bud­ding ri­valry go­ing here. Gine­bra still has the ad­van­tage but Mer­alco is a deeper team now. I ex­pect this to go the dis­tance. The Kings may re­peat but I won’t be sur­prised if the Bolts fi­nally win their first ti­tle,” Mr. Verora said.

After to­day’s out-of-town Game One, the se­ries swings back to Manila for Game Two on Sun­day at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

THE MER­ALCO BOLTS be­gin their best-of-seven PBA Gov­er­nors’ Cup fi­nals se­ries with the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Barangay Gine­bra San Miguel Kings to­day in Game One in Lu­cena City.

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