Kings, Bolts confident going into pivotal Game 5

October 21, 2017

All square with two games apiece, Barangay Ginebra and Meralco clash in a pivotal battle Sunday at the Philippine Arena, disputing the go-ahead win in a series that has been reduced to a best-of-three affair.

The Philippine Arena, the 55,000-seater dome sitting on a vast complex by the side of North Luzon Expressway in Bocaue, Bulacan, is the cauldron of PBA finals action for the rest of the Ginebra-Meralco title showdown.

And both the Kings and the Bolts are excited to bring their battle there.

"We're playing at least two games in the Philippine Arena, and it's gonna be exciting," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

The Kings have played twice in the Philippine Arena before, beating the TNT KaTropa Texters in the 2014-15 season opener, then topping the Star Hotshots in a Christmas Day showdown last year.

They're eager to keep their winning streak in the Philippine Arena and reclaim control in their duel with the Bolts in the PBA Governors Cup finale.

Free rides to the Philippine Arena will be provided to fans on a first come-first serve basis. The Jam terminals in Buendia and Cubao have been designated as the pick-up and drop-off points. Departures for the Philippine Arena are 1:40 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. in Buendia and 2:20 p.m., 2:40 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:20 p.m. and 4:40 p.m. in Cubao.

"It's a best-of-three now. Like in a game, we have lost our lead and now have to pick up our game. But what's done is done. We have to play from here. I have great faith in our players that we can regain control of the series," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.

Ginebra, however, has also lost a key player to an injury. Sol Mercado sustained an ankle sprain in crushing to the floor after challenging a crucial drive by Jared Dillinger at endgameFriday night.

"Sol will not play Sunday so it's next man up for us," said Cone.

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Meralco has lost Ranidel de Ocampo for the rest of the series, but the Bolts coped up at least in the last two games that they won on decisive closing runs.

They took Game Three at 94-81 and Game Four at 85-83.

"It's a morale-booster for us and we need to see what we can do to keep our guys fresh. Because as you get down the road, obviously the guys become tired because of the grind," said Black.

"It's important for us because we've lost a key player in Ranidel, and we knew we needed everybody to step up and contribute for us to win. That's what happened (in the last two games). But even with that it's a struggle," Black also said.

The Kings, meanwhile, are keeping a positive posture despite back-to-back losses.

"They've done a good job of pinpointing some of our weaknesses. We're not able to play to our strengths. But we have some versatility and we could do some things a lot better than we did (the last time)," said Cone.

The twice grand slam-winning coach said they would have a good chance to regain the lead in the series if they can neutralize Meralco's perimeter shooting.

"They're doing a good job keeping us from playing to our strengths. Reynel (Hugnatan) is hitting almost 60 percent from the three-point line, and he's extending our big and we can't dominate as we want to inside the paint," Cone pointed out.

Then there's Allen Durham who's a tremendous boost to the Bolts.

"He's driven to win this series. He's here last year and didn't win it. And the way he didn't win it was not very nice," said Black.