Meralco put on a well-balanced attack on both ends to take down Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 104-91, and gain the early advantage in the start of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Allein Maliksi waxed hot in the first half, import Tony Bishop got his groove in the third quarter and the rest displayed excellent defending to produce a convincing victory over the Gin Kings before 12,457 fans inside the historic Big Dome.
Cliff Hodge, Aaron Black, Chris Newsome, Bong Quinto, Raymond Almazan and even Chris Banchero, a gametime decision due to an injury on his upper body, were also solid as Meralco gained an initial step towards ending its string of finals defeats against Ginebra in the reinforced tournament.
“It was very important to get that first win,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “If you fall behind in the series, it becomes that much harder to catch up.
Sixty of the previous 88 teams that took Game 1 of a best-of-seven have gone on to win the series, a statistic Meralco hopes to join once the dust settles.
Game 2 is set Friday when the series shifts south to the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Maliksi picked up where he left off from his Game 5 performance against Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the semifinals, dropping 15 of his 22 points in the opening 24 minutes which saw Meralco lead 53-42.
Bishop then shook off his offensive woes in a timely manner, hitting 12 of his 20 in the third including two threes that enabled the Bolts to create separation from the Gin Kings.
Ginebra had pulled to within five in the third, 65-60, on Justin Brownlee’s triple but Bishop countered by knocking down a three of his own to begin the breakaway.
The Bolts would lead by as many as 21 points when Quinto scored to make it 85-64 in the fourth.
On the other hand, Ginebra struggled offensively, including Brownlee despite a game-high 27 points as he went 7-of-20 from the floor.
LA Tenorio was 1-of-8 from the floor and finished with five points for the Gin Kings.
Scottie Thompson started hot and posted 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but Ginebra couldn’t match up with Meralco in its first action since seven days ago when it finished off NLEX in their semis series.
MERALCO 104 — Maliksi 22, Bishop 20, Hodge 17, Black 12, Newsome 8, Quinto 6, Belo 5, Banchero 2, Jose 2, Caram 0, Baclao 0, Canete 0, Pasaol 0, Jamito 0.
GINEBRA 91 — Brownlee 27, Standhardinger 20, Thompson 19, Tolentino 6, Chan 5, Tenorio 5, Caperal 4, Ayaay 3, Pinto 2, Mariano 0, Onwubere 0, Devance 0, Enriquez 0.
Quarters: 25-23, 53-42, 78-60, 104-91.