Updated 17:07 PM PHT Mon, October 17, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings eked out a narrow 88-86 win over the Meralco Bolts to even up their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup Finals series at 2-2 on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Japeth Aguilar paced Ginebra with 19 points, while Sol Mercado, La Tenorio, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Justin Brownlee each scored in double digits.
It was a game of runs as Ginebra and Meralco hit each other with blistering rallies throughout the game.
The Gin Kings struck first leading by as much as 42-26 in the two opening two quarters.
It turned out that Meralco only needed the halftime break to get into gear as they went on a scintillating 34-4 run to take the lead and build a 74-58 advantage going into the payoff period.
On the back of veterans Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa, Ginebra mounted a 33-4 rally of their own to flip the scoreboard and take an 82-76 advantage.
The Fast and Furious duo combined for 15 markers during the run.
But the Bolts weren’t done as they chipped Ginebra's lead to finally draw level at 86-apiece at the 1:19 mark with a conversion from Allen Durham.
Turnovers on both sides saw Ginebra take a precarious 88-86 advantage after a Joe Devance jumper with only 25.7 ticks left in regulation.
In the succeeding play, Durham wasn’t able to convert on a three-pointer. The Bolts were given a lifeline after LA Tenorio missed two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to play.
Unfortunately, Meralco could not make the most of the time remaining as Ginebra leveled the series at 2-2.
Durham led Meralco with 34 points.
After the game, Ginebra coach Tim Cone paid tribute to the veteran duo of Caguioa and Helterbrand for saving the series.
“Well that was a storybook game. Having Mark and Jay out there doing there thing was amazing,” Cone said. “Great players make up for lousy coaching. They pretty much saved our series, and now we go from here.”
Game 5 of the series will be played on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.