PBA: Ginebra opens Governor’s Cup title defense with Meralco finals rematch

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Justin Brownlee of Ginebra and Allen Durham of Meralco face off for the 1st time since last year’s PBA Governor’s Cup finals. PBA Media Bureau

Barangay Ginebra begins its title-retention bid in the PBA Governor’s Cup on Sunday with a rematch against 2016 finals opponent Meralco.

Ginebra won its first crown in 8 years by putting away Meralco, 4-2, during last year’s best-of-7 finals, thanks to the series-clinching, buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Justin Brownlee.

The teams’ American players from that series are returning this conference, with Brownlee back and Best Import winner Allen Durham suiting up for Meralco again.

Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. at Araneta Coliseum, after the Star-Blackwater game at 4:30 p.m.

Ginebra is expected to welcome back Greg Slaughter, who is coming off a lengthy layoff because of injury.

Meralco, which opened the conference with an emphatic win over Blackwater on Friday, will lean on the resurgent play of Baser Amer and new acquisition Garvo Lanete.

Meralco coach Norman Black acknowledged that Ginebra and Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel are the teams whose standards they want to reach. 

“They’re (Kings and Beermen) two very good teams so they deserve whatever spotlight they get,” Black said in a story posted on the PBA website. “We’re just trying to win games just like everybody else.”

In the second game, Blackwater is raring to get on the winning track following its 107-78 loss to Meralco when the Elite take on Star.
 
Even though Blackwater is handicapped by the absence of Gilas Pilipinas player Mac Belo, currently playing in the Jones Cup, Star isn’t taking things for granted.

“We know naman the capability of each team and Blackwater can spring a surprise like it has done in the past,” Star coach Chito Victolero has said.

“Kaya I keep reminding the players na hindi puwedeng i-let down namin ang guard namin. We should always be on our toes against a very dangerous team like Blackwater na ngayon may extra motivation pa to bounce back from their loss.” 

Star, which features American reinforcement Cinmeon Bowers, will be without Gilas player Jio Jalalon and Marc Pingris, who remains sidelined with an injury.

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