By Jonas Terrado
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel won two of the first three games of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, largely because of how it has made Meralco import Allen Durham work doubly hard for his numbers.
Durham averaged 23.0 points on 38-percent shooting with 16.3 rebounds and 7.7 rebounds entering Game 4 which being played at press time at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as Ginebra has been trying to put different defensive schemes in order to stop the multiple Best Import winner.
Game 1 saw veteran Joe Devance, who had played limited minutes this conference following foot surgery, spending most of the time guarding Durham while Ginebra tried to put Aljon Mariano with a box-and-one defense in Game 2.
“Our defense is getting better, especially against Durham,” LA Tenorio mentioned after Ginebra’s 92-84 victory in Game 3 last Sunday.
In contrast, Justin Brownlee appears to be stabilizing the team as the series progresses.
Brownlee averaged 36.5 points in the first two games before adding the role of a distributor in Game 3 by putting up nine assists. He just had one assist in the first two games.
“(Ginebra) Coach (Tim Cone) had a talk with me and told me I had one assist the past two games, and I’ve been averaging about six or seven, something like that,“ said Brownlee, who for the record normed 7.2 assists entering the Finals.
“It’s something I try not to really focus on,” he later added “I do love getting my teammates open shots and things like that. But I just try to be aggressive and just try to take whatever the defense gives me.”
Keeping Durham limited will play a role in whether the Kings can put a 3-1 stranglehold on the Bolts and go for the clincher in Friday’s fifth game at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But Meralco has been getting scattered contributions from the locals, particularly seldom-used players like Nico Salva, rookie Trevis Jackson and Bryan Faundo.
“Yes, we’re containing Durham but I think we have to contain everyone na kaya ganun kalakas Meralco ngayon — I think kaya sila nandito,” said Tenorio.