MANILA, Philippines -- The Meralco Bolts will have to make some adjustments on the defensive end of the floor after giving up 115 points to Barangay Ginebra in Game 5 of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup finals.
This much was acknowledged by Meralco coach Norman Black who could only shake his head at the Gin Kings' offensive display on Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra shot 51.3% from the field in their 115-110 win against the Bolts that gave them a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven finals series.
Remarkably, Meralco shot even better, as they made 53.7% of their own field goals. The difference, however, was in their three-point shooting. Ginebra tied a franchise record by converting 16 of their 34 attempts from long range.
The Bolts, for their part, went 10-of-22 from long distance. Half of Meralco's triples came in the fourth quarter, where they nearly erased a 14-point lead but couldn't get over the hump.
"An amazing shooting game by Ginebra," said Black after the game. "I thought there were a lot of times that we played decent defense, but they were still able to knock down their threes."
"It's hard to beat a team that shoots like they shot tonight," he admitted.
It was the first time in the finals that Meralco had given up over 100 points to the Gin Kings. The Bolts -- like most Norman Black-coached teams -- have generally taken pride in their defense. Per RealGM, they ranked third in defensive rating after the elimination round and gave up just 91.1 points per game on average.
Even in the finals against Ginebra, their defense has been their calling card. When they won Game 3 last April 10, they limited the Gin Kings to 74 points and held them scoreless for the final five minutes of the contest.
But in Game 5, they struggled to contain Ginebra's shooters. As Black noted, the Gin Kings splashed three-pointers even when the Bolts were able to put a hand up. And when they ran Ginebra off the three-point line, they were able to get to the paint.
Ginebra import Justin Brownlee torched the Bolts for 40 points on 13-of-17 shooting, making five of his seven triples. Scottie Thompson had three three-pointers, including the dagger with just over two minutes left. Arvin Tolentino was the x-factor in Game 5: he scored 16 points and made four triples.
"We did do better offensively in the second half. We finally got Tony Bishop going in the fourth quarter. But [Christian] Standhardinger hit a couple of crucial shots there in the end game that helped Ginebra," said Black.
Standhardinger scored four points in a 7-0 blast that put Ginebra back in control after Meralco had trimmed the deficit to one point. He made a midrange jumper, then drove to the teeth of the defense for a layup.
"We actually fought back in the game but it wasn't enough," Black lamented.
Without pinpointing their exact adjustments, Black said they will have to take a look at the kind of defense that they are putting up after allowing Ginebra to get going from long range.
"Obviously, rotation on defense is really, really important because we just seem to be one rotation late a lot of times today against the offense of Ginebra," he said. "So really, we have to work on that."
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday.