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Ginebra takes crucial 3-2 Finals edge over Meralco

By Dugout Philippines

BOCAUE--Barangay Ginebra recalled its form after back-to-back losses, beating out Meralco, 85-74, in another well-fought battle to move a win shy of a PBA Governors Cup title repeat before a record crowd of 36,445 at the Philippine Arena here Sunday night.

Greg Slaughter and LA Tenorio both responded well as they played extended minutes, proving to be the difference makers as the Kings took the pivotal 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven titular series.

Justin Brownlee and Joe Devance also stepped forward as Sol Mercado stepped down with an ankle sprain, helping the Kings get back on track after numbing defeats in Game Three and Game Four.

"Before the game, we talked about Meralco having done a good job in grinding out a win. They're a kind of a grind-out defensive team like us. Basically, we got back to our identity," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.

"They beat us in the last two games and it's very important to stop whatever momentum they got. It's important for us to get back on track. Our mentality now is to come out and play one more game. That's the advantage we worked for tonight," Cone also said.

The Kings take their first of two cracks at wrapping up the series in Game Six at the same venue Wednesday.

Free rides will be provided to fans coming from the metro on a first come, first serve basis. The Jam terminal in Cubao has been designated as pick-up and drop-off point. First trip to the Philippine Arena starts at 2 p.m.

Game Seven, if necessary, is also at the Philippine Arena on Friday.

Even with one key player going down, the Kings imposed themselves right at the start before having to withstand Meralco's tough stand in the second half.

Slaughter and Tenorio played extended minutes in the absence of Mercado.

"They put in Greg Slaughter in their starting unit and they became a lot taller. They got off to a strong start and we didn't respond well," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

Slaughter and Tenorio were both keys in their fiery start and in their toe-to-toe battle with the Bolts in the second half.

The Kings were still holding a precarious 74-70 lead before unleashing a decisive seven-to-nothing roll to seize control for good.

Slaughter, starting for the first time in the series, churned out double-double numbers with 17 points and 16 rebounds while LA Tenorio bounced back strong from a scoreless outing in Game Four, delivering 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals against four turnovers.

"Greg had a very nice aggressive. He's physical in going after the rebounds and that's a difference-maker for us. He made the big difference," said Cone.

"LA didn't score last time, but came back and sent a message early that he's ready for war. And that's all we did. We all went to war," Cone also said.

Behind crucial three-pointers Garvo Lanete and Jared Dillinger, the Bolts chopped down an 18-point deficit to seven, 35-42, at the turn.

The Bolts then completely got back into the game, 42-44, just at the outset of the third and wrested the lead at 60-58 on a trey by Lanete followed by a putback by Allen Durham.

Ginebra, however, regained the driver's seat, 66-62, at the end of the third.

The Kings pounced on a brief rest by Durham at the start of the second quarter to pull away at 33-15 on a 14-0 salvo.

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