MANILA, Philippines -- The Meralco Bolts will be in a familiar situation when they play Barangay Ginebra in Game 6 of the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup finals on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Once again, the Bolts will have their backs against the wall as Ginebra seeks to wrap up the best-of-seven series and secure the championship.
The Gin Kings held off a furious fourth quarter rally by Meralco in last Sunday's Game 5 for a 115-110 win, giving them a crucial 3-2 edge in the series.
It's a scenario that's all too familiar for Meralco, as they have played the Gin Kings in three of the previous four editions of the Governors' Cup finals -- and lost each time. In their first meeting in 2016, Justin Brownlee drilled the game-winning three-pointer in Game 6 to seal the title.
In their 2017 rematch, Meralco won Game 6 and forced a decider -- but lost in Game 7. When they met again in 2019, Ginebra wrapped up the series in five games.
Still, Meralco coach Norman Black is not losing hope.
"Well, it takes four wins to win the championship. They've only won three games," Black told reporters after Game 5. "Obviously, I'm not giving up, my players aren't giving up."
"We still have a chance at tying the series," he stressed.
Black knows this will be easier said than done, especially after they gave up 115 points to Ginebra in Game 5. He already acknowledged that they will have to make some tweaks on defense; the Gin Kings made 16 of their 34 three-pointers last Sunday, tying a franchise record.
"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. So really we have to work on that," he said.
"But hey, they only have three wins. We win on Wednesday, we tie the series. That's what we're focused on right now," he added.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone is well aware that they cannot count out the Bolts. He pointed to their 2017 finals series, where Meralco gutted out a 98-91 triumph in Game 6.
Moreover, Meralco has already shown that they will not go away quietly. In Game 5, Ginebra pulled away by 14 points in the fourth quarter, but the Bolts got to within one before clutch shots by Christian Standhardinger and Scottie Thompson finally put them away.
"When I look at it, it's still very, very far away," Cone said. "It seems like it's close, but it's still very far away."
"We were in this situation, and they forced us into a Game 7, and we had to play a Game 7, I think it was, [in front of] 54,000 fans in Philippine Arena," he added. "We know that trying to beat a good team like this three times in a row is nearly impossible."
"But we're gonna try our best to get focused and ready."
Tip-off is at 6 p.m. at the Big Dome.