Ginebra repulses Meralco to take Finals opener

Justin Brownlee erupted for 38 points in the finals opener. Nikki Collantes
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Ginebra held off a late push from Meralco to take a 91-87 win in Game 1 of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals in front of 10,708 people at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday night.

A defensive gem by Japeth Aguilar saved the game for the Barangay as they go to the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena for Game 2 on Friday night with the 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Down by as much as 10 points in the third quarter, Ginebra sizzled in the early goings of the fourth and took a 80-73 lead with 7:56 remaining.

Meralco slowly crawled back and reclaimed the lead, 87-86, with 1:22 to play, but the team could not put the game away especially when Ginebra' tough defense forced Chris Newsome to a crucial traveling call with less than a minute left.

Justin Brownlee gave the Barangay the lead again at 88-87 when he made two free throws off a Bong Quinto foul with 33.1 seconds left.

Quinto tried to atone for the crucial foul, but the rookie swingman, who struggled all game long in scoring, badly missed a wide open three that would have given the Bolts the lead.

Stanley Pringle kept the door open for Meralco to at least force overtime as he split his two free throws off another Quinto foul, but Aguilar virtually sealed Ginebra's victory by blocking Allen Durham's layup attempt. Brownlee scored two more charities for the final tally.

Brownlee finished with 38 points and 16 rebounds, while Aguilar added 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one steal for the Barangay.

Greg Slaughter had a perfect shooting night, making all of his three field goals and both his free throws for eight points alongside eight rebounds and four blocks.

Durham finished with a triple-double of 25 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists with one block, while Raymond Almazan added a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds with one block for the Bolts. Newsome added 24 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Box Scores:

Ginebra 91 – Brownlee 38, J. Aguilar 16, Tenorio 14, Pringle 10, Slaughter 8, Thompson 2, Chan 1, Mariano 0.

Meralco 87 – Durham 25, Newsome 24, Almazan 20, Amer 9, Caram 4, Quinto 3, Maliksi 2, Faundo 0, Hodge 0, Pinto 0.

Quarters: 19-19; 37-41; 68-71; 91-87.

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