Meralco mercilessly bottled up the enemy on Sunday night and the Bolts picked up the incredible match against Barangay Geneva to turn the tide of the PBA Governors Cup title series back in their favor.
Eight points behind in the half, Meralco Defense led Jean Kings to an 83-74 victory at 26-point output and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven final. Which has stunned hugely pro-Geneva fans who have flocked to the Mall of Asia Arena with over 16,000.
And then the Bolts fired on virtually all cylinders in the final two frames, which led Tony Bishop Jr. and Chris Newsom to lead the way because Meralco would not only pull the nose but also take it in the race-two-four. The series is heading towards a positive feeling when the series returns to the Cave Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cuba, Queens City on Wednesday.
“I sometimes sound like a broken record, but both teams have played really good defense tonight. You can tell by the score, “said Meralco coach Norman Black.” It was very difficult to score there, so it’s just a matter of getting some stops and trying to hold on as long as we can. “
Bishop, who beat Geneva’s opponent Justin Brownlee in the Best Import race, finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds and collected Newsome 20 and 11 with six assists to complete a deadly 1-2 attack that the Kings never had an answer to. The last two quarters
“Although we had some good offensive performances,” Black added.
The defense, however, still proved to be the biggest story of the contest as Cliff Hodge anchored a non-nonsense stand that was highlighted in two sequences on the minute of death when he stabbed a Christian standhardinger short and then made an offensive foul. The next play is the Geneva Center which took the wind out of the joint flock of kings.
Brownlee went on to lead the Kings with 19 points but was forced by Hodge to a 10-for-1 clip from the three-point range, which was converted by 13 shots from 99-93 Game 2 wins. 4 out of 32 to underscore how it struggled.
Allen Maliksey, who was scoreless in Game 2, hit seven of his 10 points in the fourth period for the Bolts, who are looking to win a title series for the first time in four encounters with the Kings for the franchise’s first PBA crown.
No one was needed to remind Black that this lead was reminiscent of the two clubs’ first meeting in 2016. At that point, the Kings won the next three games on their way to the title.
“I just live in the present — which we are 2-1 above, and we will be back this Wednesday. We have a few days to get our feet fresh, and so do they (Jean Kings), ”he said. INQ
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