By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA — Barangay Ginebra rallied in the fourth quarter and kept Meralco Bolts at bay in the end for a 91-87 win in Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Tuesday night.
In front of some 10,708 fans, the Barangay crawled back from 10 points down in the third quarter and even led by as much as seven, 80-73, with 7:56 left in the fourth.
The Bolts slowly recovered and even retook the lead, 87-86, with 1:22 to play.
They, however, failed to sustain the lead, and the Barangay closed the game with five straight points off free throws.
But none was more important than Japeth Aguilar’s block on Allen Durham that helped seal the win for Ginebra.
Justin Brownlee finished with 38 points and 16 rebounds, while Aguilar added 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one steal for the Barangay, who is now 1-0 up in the best-of-seven series.
Greg Slaughter went 3-for-3 in field goals and 2-for-2 in free throws for eight points alongside eight rebounds and four blocks off the bench.
Durham finished with a triple-double of 25 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists with one block, while Raymond Almazan added a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds with one block for the Bolts, who will now look to bounce back in Game 2 as the series shifts to the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City on Friday night.
Chris Newsome added 24 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Ginebra 91 – Brownlee 38, J. Aguilar 16, Tenorio 14, Pringle 10, Slaughter 8, Thompson 2, Chan 2, Devance 1, Mariano 0.
Meralco 87 – Durham 25, Newsome 24, Almazan 20, Amer 9, Caram 4, Quinto 3, Maliksi 2, Faundo 0, Hodge 0, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 19-19; 37-41; 68-71; 91-87. (PNA)