LUCENA, Quezon -- The Meralco Bolts held off a furious Barangay Ginebra rally in the second half for a 104-102 win in Game 2 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals Friday at the Quezon Convention Center. Up by as many as 19 in the first half, the Bolts struggled through a sloppy second half to hold on and tie the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. Game 3 is on Sunday, Jan. 12 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Allen Durham muscled his way to 21 points and 18 boards to lead five players in double figures, while Chris Newsome added 17 and seven dimes. Baser Amer atoned for a dismal Game 1 showing with 17 markers on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range.
A resurgent Gin Kings offense -- which had more turnovers (eight) than assists (four) in a first half marred by bad shooting -- effectively negated Meralco's stellar first two quarters behind a 13-3 start in the third. Ginebra continued to pounce on the Bolts' turnovers -- seven after the break after just eight in the first 24 minutes -- and leaned on Justin Brownlee to tie things up at 70 with 2:31 left in that frame.
Meralco was able to steady the ship behind four straight threes from Amer, Nico Salva and Bryan Faundo to take an 82-76 lead entering the final quarter.
That trend continued in the final period, where the Bolts sank timely 3-pointers to fend off the Gin Kings. Amer supplied the most important ones, including two straight 3s from the top of the arc to hike the lead back to double-digits, 101-91, with 2:13 to go.
Durham appeared to have sealed the win for Meralco with a putback and a free throw to give his side a five-point buffer, but an LA Tenorio triple cut it to two and kept the Gin Kings within striking distance. Meralco, though, made sure it would run away with the win as Salva ran out the clock for the Bolts in the last three seconds.
"Well, we needed a win. We wanted to tie the series. It was a little bit scary with them hitting three 3-point shots in the last minute, but a win is a win and it gives us a chance to even the series and move on to the next game," said coach Norman Black.
Raymond Almazan threw in 15 points, nine boards, two steals and a block, while Nard Pinto fired all of his 12 points in the opening frame.
Pinto, in particular, played a huge role in dictating a strong first half by Meralco. He accounted for four of the Bolts' five threes in an opening quarter that saw them take a 34-19 lead.
Meralco's lead climbed to 19 later in the second quarter as a 9-0 run, capped by an Amer three, put the Bolts up 61-42.
"This was all about just trying to even the series, get it 1-1," Black said." We know we have to go back on Sunday in Manila, and we're not gonna have much rest so this was a big win for us. We could not afford to go back 0-2."
Ginebra coach Tim Cone is eager leave Game 2 behind.
"We battled back, which I'm proud of, but that's not going to be enough for this series," Cone said. "Being proud of the guys is not going to win the series for us. We got to do more."
Meralco (104) -- Durham 21, Amer 17, Newsome 17, Almazan 15, Pinto 12, Salva 9, Caram 5, Quinto 5, Faundo 3, Hodge 0, Maliksi 0, Hugnatan 0.
Barangay Ginebra (102) -- Brownlee 35, Pringle 23, Aguilar 18, Tenorio 10, Slaughter 6, Thompson 4, Caguioa 4, Mariano 2, Caperal 0, Dela Cruz 0, Devance 0.
Quarters: 36-21, 63-46, 82-76, 104-102.
This is Meralco's first win in Lucena after going 0-2 before this game.
Meralco outscored Ginebra's bench 29-12.