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Amer, Durham rescue Meralco from Ginebra scare as Bolts even up series

By Patrick Sutare

QUEZON CITY--Meralco is back to its fighting stance, and this time, Ginebra is now inflicted the same damage as they had after the first two games.

The Bolts made it two in a row against the Gin Kings, evening up the series at two-apiece after prevailing in what transpired to be a grind out tussle that went down till the final buzzer in Game 4 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, 85-83, Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Baser Amer and Allen Durham took turns in hitting the team’s biggest shots in crunch time.

Down by a basket with 1:16 left, 80-78, Amer found himself wide open from the right corner and buried a back-breaking triple to give the Bolts a two-point lead.

Justin Brownlee would tie the game next but Allen Durham immediately retaliated to put Meralco back in control with 46 seconds to go.

And just like how they prided themselves all tournament long, defense won it for the the then trailing Bolts.

They warded off shots from Sol Mercado and a couple of attempts from Brownlee, including a potential game-tying basket, as the time expired.

Amer, an obvious missing factor for the Bolts the past three games, found his touch when it counted the most.

He scored 11 points none bigger than the go-ahead triple in the clutch which also happened to be his only field goal in the second half. He played for 24 minutes and added two rebounds and three assists.

Durham, meanwhile, shrugged off a slow start to tally a team-high 28 points, 22 in the second half, 18 boards, two dimes, two steals and two blocks in 44 minutes of play.

Chris Newsome was a steady force all game long, posting his own double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds as the Bolts dragged the series down to a best-of-three. Reynel Hugnatan poured in 14 points as he continues to be a deadshot from the outside, hitting four of eight from deep.

Meralco tried to blow the game wide open early in the third as a series of relentless attacks had the team leading by 12 with 5:28 left in the quarter.

But coach Tim Cone unleashed one familiar trick off his sleeves to stop Ginebra’s bleeding— fielding in the Fast and the Furious.

It yielded quick dividends for the defending champs as the team appeared to play inspired basketball to get right back into the game.

The spirited comeback, however, fell short as the 16,000 strong crowd inside the arena, mostly cheering for the Kings, were left stunned.

Brownlee posted huge numbers as he bounced back from a disastrous outing last time out. He scored a game-high 34 points, grabbed 14 boards and dished out seven assists but obviously lacked local support with Joe Devance being the only player to score in double figures for the team with 15.

Ginebra will try to rediscover its form and get back to winning as Game 5 shifts to the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Sunday.

Box Scores:

Meralco 85-Durham 28, Newsome 18, Hugnatan 14, Amer 11, Hodge 7, Dillinger 2, Caram 2, Faundo 2, Lanete 1, Tolomia 0

Ginebra 83-Brownlee 34, Devance 15, Caguioa 8, Aguilar 7, Slaughter 6, Cruz 4, Thompson 4, Ferrer 3, Helterbrand 2, Tenorio 0, Mercado 0

Quarterscores: 17-17, 41-40, 68-63, 85-83

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