One of the reasons behind Barangay Ginebra’s downfall on Friday was Meralco’s ability to find the open man in the last 2 minutes of Game 4 of the PBA Governors’ Cup finals.
Meralco coach Norman Black cited that Ginebra owns the best team average in assists in the conference, but his Bolts were able to outwit the defending champions on 2 crucial instances allowing them to equalize their best-of-7 series at 2-2.
The first instance involved a connection between Allen Durham and Baser Amer.
Behind by a point, Meralco displayed some patience in the face of a staunch Ginebra defense. When the ball went to Durham, he immediately drew a phalanx of Ginebra defenders but he had the quick sense to see an unmarked teammate.
That guy was Amer, who received Durham’s pass on the opposite corner and buried the set 3-point shot to give Meralco an 83-81 lead with 78 seconds to go.
“If they (Kings) helped on AD (Allen Durham) which they regularly do, then we want to space the floor and everybody on the team knows where the open man is,” Black said.
“And he’s open in the corner. He’s actually the last pass.”
A few seconds later, after two free throws by Justin Brownlee tied the score at 83-all, it was Reynel Hugnatan and Durham who would team up for the game-winner.
An overaggressive double-team by Ginebra on a driving Hugnatan enabled Hugnatan to find Durham under the rim for a bucket.
“Ginebra has been the best passing team in the league for the entire year, but we’ve been No. 2, so we’ve done a good job of moving the basketball to the open man,” Black said following Meralco’s 85-83 win on Friday.
Ginebra had a conference-best of 25.94 assists up to the semifinal round, while Meralco was second with 23.75.
In the finals, the Kings (22.75 assists) still average better than the Bolts (20.25).
Late in Game 4, Meralco’s unselfishness proved to be a key factor in making this finals a legitimate series.
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