Looking at Meralco’s Game 1 victory over Ginebra
by rick olivares
That was a massive win for the Meralco Bolts last night when they survived their endgame miscues in the fourth period to defeat Barangay Ginebra in overtime, 114-109.
In the past two conferences, many of the Bolts’ losses occurred in the last two minutes or even the final play as they botched an offensive thrust or two, missed a shot they should have made, or were unable to stop an opponent’s last gasp attempt.
The Bolts’ looked to be headed for another crushing loss after misses from the free throw line by Allen Durham, poor shots by Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge, and an offensive foul by Reynel Hugnatan. I am not crazy about putting Anjo Caram on LA Tenorio either and Ginebra’s point guard scored the equalizer that sent the match into overtime. Maybe a taller guard, Baser Amer. If Jared Dillinger were available, he length would have helped.
I thought that Ginebra gave Meralco problems when they had Justin Brownlee moved to the three-point line pulling out Durham from the lane. Without that rim protector, Joe Devance and others quickly slid inside for a layup.
That missed layup by Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee was huge but even bigger was that follow up tip by Scottie Thompson that nearly dropped but rimmed out. That could have changed the complexion of the game in the fourth period.
Ginebra looked imperious in the first half as they their shots while the Bolts went cold. Late in the game, they began to miss shots.
However, you have to credit Meralco for hanging tough and not folding.
One of the aspects that Meralco coach Norman Black had to work on is the players’ mentality about winning games. They hadn’t won anything more so much games so they oft tended to collapse.
They nearly did but Durham took it strong in OT and scored seven straight points to silence the crowd and seize the game for Meralco. Durham you can say really rescued Meralco for this match as put up an impressive stat line of 46 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists! He also added two blocked shots and a steal and had zero turnovers! Very impressive.
What also worked for Meralco?
In the second half of the match, the locals finally came through. Jimmy Alapag, Hodge, and Hugnatan came up big in the clutch too.
Another thing that was to the Bolts’ favor was their rebounding. They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds to the 12 of Ginebra and they parlayed that into 27 second chance points (Ginebra only mustered seven). Ruling the boards also allowed the Bolts to get out on the break where they owned a 14-6 advantage.
Speaking of offensive rebounding, it was Chris Newsome’s offensive board that he dished off to Jimmy Alapag for a triple that allowed Meralco to overhaul the late deficit and take the lead. And how about Alapag who tied Allan Caidic for the most triples in a career (1,242)? Incredibly, both players played for Norman Black.
This was a massive win for the Bolts as they are continuing to build their confidence with every game. Hodge and Newsome struggled with their game. That might raise some eyebrows for Newsome who finished with 17 points behind Durham’s monster 46 points. But he didn’t drive hard to the basket and looked tentative once more in the clutch. That’s finals nerves for both.
Alapag and Hugnatan came through because of their experience. Likewise, it was the Gin Kings’ vets (Tenorio, Devance, and Mark Caguioa who played well).
What Ginebra might want to look into is using their height inside to attack Durham and for their stringer guards to try and overpower the Bolts’ smaller backcourt.
What Meralco might want to do it have Hodge and Newsome go harder to the basket because when they are tentative the offense bogs down and they take awful shots.
Game One was a thriller. If that sets the tone for the series, then we’re in for some great basketball.