ONE FINAL GAME

By: Inquirer.net October 26,2017 - 10:43 PM

Greg Slaughter of Ginebra is double teamed by Meralco’s Allen Durham and Garvo Lanete.
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Gin Kings, Bolts figure in deciding Game 7 for PBA Governors’ Cup crown today

Bocaue – Minutes after a raucous celebration died down, just when a Game 7 in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals had been forged, Meralco coach Norman Black was quick to plant his feet back to earth to face the media and tell them that the kind of opposition he’s up against is not at all lost on him.

“One thing I know about coach Tim (Cone) is that you can’t do anything twice (to him), that’s for sure,” Black said with a straight face when asked if his Bolts could pull out the same dominant game they did on Friday night’s Game 6 where an all-time crowd of 53,642 made its noisy presence felt all night at Philippine Arena here.

“He will figure it out and find a way to get back (at us), so…,” Black said, practically admitting that the burden of adjustment also falls on his shoulders despite having some sort of momentum heading into his franchise’s biggest game.

“It’s us against the world,” Black said with a chuckle as recounted the experience coaching in front of that huge crowd.

Meralco pulled out a 98-91 win that necessitated the 7 p.m. rubbermatch Friday, leading by as large as 20 points early before taking the best punches the Gin Kings could throw in the stretch and remain standing firm.

Black said that he’s been on both ends of a Game 7, as far as his recollection could take him.

“I remember winning the last two games against Purefoods and David Thirdkill while I was playing coach (at San Miguel),” he said. “But, I also lost a championship to coach Tim when Alaska won the last two games and we couldn’t hold a 3-2 lead (while coaching Sta. Lucia).”

It’s going to be a tall order, Black knows, as he tries to squeeze the best out of his players one more game and gift the franchise its first-ever pro championship.

“It’s just really tough to beat Ginebra, they are well-coached and have crowd support,” Black said. “We really had to fight every second (of this game) to beat them.”

Triumphing in Game 6 has some of its perks, especially taking that winning feeling for what many great sportsmen have described as: “the best two words in sports.”

“We’re where we want to be, ever since the start of the conference,” he said. “We just have to do it one more time and we just have to get it done. One team is going to get it done, for sure, and I hope that it’s us.”

Cone was also quick to dismiss any personal rivalries with his counterpart and downplay coaches’ roles in this beautiful series, which may have seen its bad officiating but is being played with such class by both squads.

“I don’t think experience (in Game 7s) counts here,” Cone said. “We’ve had our share of Game 7s, Norman and I, but I’m not sure (our) experience matters there.”

50-50 game

This game was what Cone and his gang avoided last season after Justin Brownlee hit that buzzer-beating triple off Allen Durham’s face to end Game 6 that ended an eight-year title wait for the Kings.

Ginebra has a 2-1 record in Game 7s, with Cone to handle the Kings in such a game for the first time.

Needless to say, this will be the Bolts’ first Game 7.

“Game 7 is an animal all by itself. It’s a 50-50 game that’s why you don’t want to play a Game 7,” Cone, a two-time Grand Slam champion, said. “But it’s the best two words in sports.”

Durham will remain to be the man for the Bolts, while Cone would have to be able to shut down the Meralco import and have his Kings impose their size to come out victorious in this one.

Save for the Game 1 rout scored by the Kings, this series has been as tight and as classical as it could get.

And whichever team gets out of this one alive, this series will provide a fitting ending to what has been a very interesting season.

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