Mendoza: Meralco in dire straits vs. Ginebra

Al Mendoza

ONCE Barangay Ginebra’s guns go ablaze, expect disaster for the opposing side.

That’s what happened in Game 3 of the ongoing best-of-seven championship playoffs in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

After a close, see-saw battle, almost in the first two quarters that saw the Gin Kings clip slim 24-21 and 43-42 margins, respectively, Ginebra would next unstoppably fire on all cylinders to grab an imposing 20-point, 78-58 third-frame advantage.

It was the usually prolific Stanley Pringle who practically orchestrated the breakaway, firing 17 of his total of 21 points in that deadly stretch as he kept slicing the lane like a chainsaw gone rapid fire.

It was goodbye after that for Meralco, which even trailed by 23 points in the 92-84 Ginebra win.

Not only Pringle but also Justin Brownlee, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio who also had so brazenly bombed the Bolts with shots fired in calculated fashion.

Brownlee had a team-high 24 points and, adding Aguilar’s 23 and Tenorio’s 11, four Gin Kings had cantankerously combined for 79 points in another Ginebra Sunday theater at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

So smooth was Ginebra in the final half that its 23 assists was a record of sorts, with two of those issued by Brownlee that all but snuffed out a Meralco revolt in the dying seconds of the game.

With the Bolts inching precariously to within 82-87, Brownlee glanced at an open Tenorio for a three.

Next, Brownlee fed Aguilar for an easy layup, giving the super-talented Ginebra import a total of nine game-high assists to go with his nine rebounds.

“This is the way we wanted our game to be,” said a jubilant Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who will gun for a no-turning-back 3-1 edge on Wednesday, also at the Araneta Coliseum.

Meralco’s utter lack of firepower in Game 3—Chris Newsome had 24 and Allen Durham 23, but the next best output was a mere 10 points—must be addressed aggressively, or Game 4 could be gone with the wind.

For the Bolts, Wednesday’s game might be the championship itself.