‘Road Kings’

Meralco coach wary of Ginebra getting more love as crucial Game 2 heads to Quezon

By: Dennison Rey Dalupang - Philippine Daily Inquirer | January 10,2020 - 09:57 AM

Meralco import Allen Durham is defended by three Ginebra players in Stanlet Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, and Justin Brownlee in Game 1 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Araneta Coliseum. contributed photo | PBA Images

Meralco coach Norman Black knows Barangay Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone and his charges will be bringing more than a winning feeling when they shoot for a 2-0 lead against his Bolts in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Friday in Lucena City.

“[Road games are] always an advantage for Ginebra,” Black said as Meralco hunts for a series equalizer on the road. “You go anywhere in the country and fans follow them.”

Barangay Ginebra found a way to carve out a 91-87 victory in Game 1 despite playing Meralco’s pace most of the match in front of a decent crowd whose majority were Kings fans.

But at least, when playing Ginebra in Manila, Meralco can reel in its own set of followers.

“We can [at least] get four or five thousand fans when they [account for the] other 12 or 13 thousand,” he said. “But whenever we go to the province, it’s a bit more difficult.”

Cone and the Kings, naturally, hope to cash in.

“The only way to counter Meralco is with our fans. The ‘sixth man’ of Meralco is their hunger and their motivation from losing the last two [championship] series [against the Kings],” Cone said.

“Our ‘sixth man’ is our fans. Without them, it’s gonna be tough for us to beat [Meralco],” he said.

And based on what Meralco showed in Game 1, Cone will need Ginebra’s faithful to really rock Quezon Convention Center the moment Game 2 tips off at 7 p.m.

If that series curtain raiser was any indication, the Bolts have proven without a doubt that they are a worthy opponent.

For nearly three periods in that clash, Meralco had Ginebra on the ropes, making the Gin Kings heavily rely on oft-returning import Justin Brownlee until he looked gassed in the fourth.

As if emboldened by that performance, Black even hinted on applying minimal tweaks for Game 2, and they will most certainly center on handling the endgame better.

Meralco nearly pulled off a Game 1 victory until it blew crucial possessions in the stretch.

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