Heading into the final stages of the Governors’ Cup Finals, Meralco and Ginebra were 7th and 9th in the PBA standings. With only a few games left in the season (4, including this one) any game is a must win for a team that is on the fence. Even more so, a win against a team that is only so slightly ahead of you in the table would be even more satisfying and necessary.
So it was only normal that a game between these two would have the atmosphere and intensity as that of a Game 7 of the Finals. It wasn’t a question of if things would get crazy. I was more like a ticking time bomb of when.
It all started at the tail end of the third quarter when Jared Dillinger got tangled up with Dave Marcelo after the rebound. Sol Mercado (who was far away from the play) saw something he didn’t like and decided to give Jared Dillinger a little chat. Things got heated and Gary David came rushing in an attempt to separate things out. Everything would settle down, but that was a turning point in the game. Ginebra were up at 4 points at the moment of the incident and the lead would slightly grow to 5 before the end of the half.
The 4th quarter was one for the ages. Gary David had scored only 2 points up until the 3rd quarter buzzer, but maybe that scuffle brought some fire into him. He went running through screens and played frantic defense en route to 8 straight points early in the quarter.
Ginebra went back and forth with Meralco, highlighted by the Asian imports trying to stop each other on defense. Both ended the game with 12 points, but Jiwan Kim had more assist (7 to 0) and less turnovers (2 to 4).
Two of the biggest three-point shots in this game came from two of the most unsuspecting candidates. Cliff Hodge buried a three to push the lead from 94-92 to 97-92 with 3:30 minutes left despite shooting only 23.4% this season.
Then Japeth Aguilar shot a HUGE three to tie the game up at 99 with less that a minute left. Prior to this game, he had shot 4 three-point shots and made only one.
After a made layup from Andre Emmett, Ginebra would go to their offensive scoring machine, Orlando Johnson, for the tie. Jared Dillinger stood his ground and came up with a huge defensive play to get the turnover.
The point of all of this is that, despite the Meralco Bolts being the most highly dependent team on their star import (37.5% Usage Rate), it took a string of huge performances from their other players to get the much-needed win for the Bolts. Even though the last moments of the game ended up with Emmett scoring the last 5 points, the Bolts wouldn’t have been there had the other stars not contributed.
The Bolts will now have Rain or Shine and KIA left on their schedule. Rain or Shine have the exact same 5-4 record and KIA is half a game behind with 4-4. These are two more must win game if the Bolts want to make a sure shot at the playoffs and to get a win, they are going to need the supporting cast to Andre Emmett as they did in this game.
Videos courtesy of ABS-CBN Sports, Feature Picture courtesy from Paul Ryan Tan (Slam Philippines)