Meralco survives a late Ginebra rally to force Game 7

Meralco 98 – Ginebra 91, Series is tied 3-3

The Meralco Bolts learned their lesson from last year’s game 6 experience against Barangay Ginebra. The Bolts found themselves in a similar situation. They were up by double-digits heading into the second half and Ginebra once again tried to make a big run. But instead of folding under the pressure, Meralco fought back and tied the series 3-3, forcing a Game 7.

The Bolts looked like they couldn’t miss early in the game. Chris Newsome and Reynel Hugnatan set the tone early for Meralco. Newsome aggressively attacked the basket while Hugnatan launched from beyond the arc with confidence. Meralco jumped out to an early 12-4 lead off a Newsome layup. The Bolts continued to pour on the points as they got to running off Ginebra misses. They built a 20-point lead in the second quarter and settled for a 17-point margin at half time.

This was the same scenario last season. Meralco built a large lead after the first half and Ginebra came roaring back in the second half. It seemed as if the same narrative would unfold this year.

Ginebra went on a run in the third quarter as Justin Brownlee and Greg Slaughter teamed up to pound the ball inside. They went on an 18-7 run to cut the halftime lead down to just six points. Just as they were threatening to take over the game, Meralco fought back. Off a Ginebra turnover, Hugnatan scored on a jumper and Garvo Lanete followed it up with a straightaway three to bring the lead back up to double-digits, 68-57.

The Barangay continued to battle back. They entered the fourth quarter down just six points. Hugnatan and Newsome led Meralco early in the fourth quarter. They increased the lead back up to 11-points midway through the fourth. Ginebra had one last rally in them. Behind outside hits from LA Tenorio, Justin Brownlee and Mark Caguioa they were able to cut the Meralco lead down to just five points in the final three minutes of the game. But that was their last stand.

After being massively outrebounded this series, the Bolts picked a good time to crash the boards. Durham got an offensive rebound off his own miss to score inside and bring Meralco back up by seven. Caguioa cut the lead back down to five. The Bolts missed two potential daggers but got offensive rebounds again as Durham scored a shot inside to give Meralco more breathing room. Reynel Hugnatan added a three-pointer for good measure to seal the win.

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