Durham goes beast mode to lead Meralco to crucial Game 3 win
Paul Lintag on Oct 18, 2017 09:46 PM
The hulking reinforcement fired 38 points and 20 rebounds for Meralco, leading the Bolts' big fourth-quarter run, a barometer so far in this beast-of-7 series, to cut their Finals deficit in half, 1-2.
Meralco's local support still leaves much to be desired so the Bolts just unleashed Allen Durham.
And the newly-crowned back-to-back Best Import for the Governors' Cup delivered.
Durham almost single-handedly brought Meralco back to the 2017 Governors' Cup Finals, powering the Bolts to a crucial 94-81 win over Ginebra in Game 3 Wednesday at the Big Dome.
The hulking reinforcement fired 38 points and 20 rebounds for Meralco, leading the Bolts' big fourth-quarter run, a barometer so far in this best-of-7 series, to cut their Finals deficit in half, 1-2.
Down 75-77 with 6:04 to go, Durham scored nine points in Meralco's 16-3 run to take an 11-point lead with 90 seconds left to secure the victory.
The win is Meralco's first in the Finals since Game 3 of last year's championship round and Ginebra previously won five straight over the Bolts to capture the 2016 Governors' Cup and take a 2-0 lead in this series.
After Durham, only one local player scored in double figures for the Bolts but Reynel Hugnatan sure came through in the best possible time for his team.
All of a sudden playing heavy minutes after Ranidel De Ocampo went down with a calf injury, the ever-reliable veteran dropped 22 points, 21 from downtown, to help spark a fluctuating Meralco offense.
Hugnatan buried two triples in the final four minutes, the first to give the Bolts an 83-77 lead with 3:37 to go and the second to seal the game's finally tally. His performance was reminiscent of his Game 3 performance last year when he went a perfect 3-of-3 from deep in the final three minutes.
"The game becomes a lot easier if you can make shots, if you can knock down your outside shots. Today we did a good job of making our perimeter shots and a lot of credit goes to Reynel Hugnatan who stepped up and made a lot of threes for us today," head coach Norman Black said.
"Our defense was pretty solid, just like it was last game. But the difference is we played the defense for 48 minutes instead of just 44," he added, noting on Meralco's Game 2 collapse.
While it was a close game all throughout, it was the Gin Kings who were practically in control until Durham went beast mode in the second half.
Faced with a must-win situation, Durham dropped 23 points in the final 24 minutes with 13 coming in the fourth period as the Bolts started to pound Ginebra by almost exclusively relyin on their dominant import.
Five players scored in double figures for the defending champion Gin Kings but the team collectively shot only 43 percent from the field as Meralco's defense hanged tough.
Justing Brownlee led the way with 15 points but he missed 13 out of 20 attempts from the field. LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar finished with 14 apiece for Ginebra.
Game 4 is set for Friday also at the Big Dome.
MERALCO 94 - Durham 38, Hugnatan 22, Dillinger 9, Lanete 8, Caram 7, Newsome 7, Hodge 3, Amer 0, De Ocampo 0, Faundo 0, Tolomia 0.
GINEBRA 81 - Brownlee 15, Tenorio 14, Aguilar J. 14, Slaughter 12, Thompson 10, Devance 8, Caguioa 8, Mercado 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 21-21, 46-47, 66-64, 94-81.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8