I’ve forgotten a lot of things over the years, but strangely enough I remember where I was for the finale of both Ginebra-Meralco Parts 1 and 2.
I remember being among one of the 54,000 people at the Philippines Arena on November 4, 2017.
Almost a year earlier than that, I remember watching Justin Brownlee hang in suspension mid-shot as the stream for Game 6 of the 2016 Finals buffered over and over again while I was watching with a fellow Ginebra fan friend in Hong Kong.
Despite the outcome not being what I was hoping for both times (Yes, I am a Meralco fan.), these were pretty sweet memories.
And that’s why I’m not going to miss it when Meralco goes up against Ginebra for a title once again. If you’re looking for some other reasons why you shouldn’t miss it too, well I’ve got you covered.
A match-up rich in history
This isn’t a rivalry.
At least Meralco’s import Allen Durham won’t let you put that tag on yet until he finally wins for the first time. Regardless of what Durham says, rivalry or not, this is a Finals clash that has just so much history deeply ingrained into the matchup.
This is a series that saw Brownlee make a buzzer-beating three to win the title for a franchise that had gone by without one for nearly a decade. It was in this series that the legendary Jimmy Alapag set the PBA All-Time Three-Point shooting Record in an overtime win for the Bolts.
The last time these two played in a Finals series, it set the PBA’s attendance record at 54,068 at the Philippine Arena.
Allen Durham is probably right. This isn’t a rivalry. Not yet.
But if then, this is a “non-rivalry” you can’t miss.
Added flavor, new faces
There will be some featured new guys that’ll get a taste of the action here Part 3.
Raymond Almazan brings in the size that the Meralco Bolts needed in the past two series, hoping that this will ease up their disadvantage going up against Ginebra’s monster frontline. The Bolts also have Allein Maliksi who brings in championship experience and could maybe even give his team some insights as they go up against his former coach, Tim Cone.
Ginebra hasn’t exactly stayed put on their end as well. Already loaded with talent up and down their entire line up, the Gin Kings also added Stanley Pringle. The 32-year-old guard has already won a lot of accolades in the PBA and now he’ll get his first chance to finally win a PBA title.
It just goes to show that though these teams have found the way to repeatedly make it to the highest stage in the PBA in these recent years, they have never stopped retooling on their way to another long run to a championship.
The Dillinger Bowl
My fandom of the Meralco Bolts started with Jared Dillinger. His named reminded me of a lone cowboy in the wild, wild, west and that was fun enough for me to make the decision to root for him and the team.
He then often clashed verbally with Ginebra players and that made him even more cooler, if that was possible, especially as the two teams played in games with higher stakes. Dillinger, Ginebra’s public enemy number one, played his butt off in Game 7 of the 2017 Finals, knocking down trey after trey to keep Meralco alive.
Now, he’s one of them.
It’s going to be weird seeing Dillinger – out of all the Meralco Bolts from the past two Finals series – playing for Ginebra this time around, but that’s the way basketball goes sometimes.
Luckily for us fans, it’s only going to make the games much richer in context for the storylines.
Brownlee vs. Durham: Round 3
Justin Brownlee and Allen Durham are two of the most recognizable imports for their respective PBA teams in the recent years. They’ve played against each other 17 (!!!) times since 2016 with Brownlee slightly ahead 10-7.
Durham leads with one more Best Import of the Conference award and better averages in points (29.1 to 24.4), rebounds (17.3 to 10.1), and assists (6.1 to 4.2) in their head-to-head matchups, but Brownlee should rest easily with his two championships over Durham’s teams.
Durham probably still gets one of those Kevin Durant/Dwyane Wade Gatorade commercial nightmares every now and then of the 2016 Finals Brownlee shots, too.
The level that these two imports are playing at combined with how long they’ve been with the team makes round 3 of this heavyweight bout one of the best matchups to look for in this Finals series.
Coach Tim vs. Coach Black
Norman Black has a score to settle.