TITLE DUEL ON
Both Meralco and Ginebra were never favored to enter the finals series of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Bolts and the Gin Kings had to overcome their stronger sister teams TNT and San Miguel to set up the championship meeting of the underdogs.
And both camps promised to deliver an exciting seven-game series for the fans.
Meralco import Allen Durham knows the stakes are higher playing against Ginebra, not only for the title but also with the potential to silence the league’s noisiest fan base.
“As a competitor, you want to play against the best, and I can’t wait for tomorrow,” said Durham in the finals press conference at PBA Café Thursday.
Chris Newsome, who is the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year title, said their matchup against Ginebra is a testament on how the league has improved in terms of competitiveness.
This will be the Bolts’ first franchise appearance in a title series while the Gin Kings’ last trip was in 2013 when it lost to Alaska in the Commissioner’s Cup finals.
“This shows the PBA has stepped up as far as competitiveness is concerned,” said Newsome. “Seeing a new team in the finals and seeing a team who hasn’t been there for a long time, the fans will get their money’s worth.”
Ginebra guard LA Tenorio, who was with the franchise when it lost to Alaska in 2013, knows a finals series against the first-timers Meralco will be no walk in the park.
“It’s nice to be back in the finals, very excited that we’re back, pero again katulad ng sinabi nila, dalawang team ito na sobrang gutom sa championship,” said Tenorio.
“This will be a fun and exciting series, hopefully makuha ko na first championship ko with Ginebra.”
For Ginebra’s old guns, Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa, a return to the finals is not only an opportunity for them, but also a gift to their rabid supporters.
Helterbrand and Caguioa were part of the Ginebra team that won its last title in the 2008 Fiesta Cup.
“Last time we won was eight years ago. For me this is for the fans, and I’m really excited to be here,” said Caguioa, the 2012 MVP.
“I expect a tough battle with Meralco, great team, great players, and great leader in Jimmy [Alapag],” said Helterbrand, the 2009 MVP. “I don’t think any of the players think this will be an easy win. This is a special treat for the fans.”
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