MANILA, Philippines – An impressive victory over Barangay Ginebra proved that the Meralco Bolts are "for real," but they cannot afford to relax in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup.
This according to import Allen Durham after the Bolts dismantled Ginebra, 101-77, on Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was a tremendous victory for the Bolts, who outplayed Ginebra in every facet of the game.
"It was just all our defense. You know, we try to be physical, we try to make sure we finish the defense of possession with the rebounds and try to get out of run," a beaming Durham said after the game.
The former Best Import was at the forefront of Meralco's attack. Durham scored 23 points in the first half to help the Bolts establish control, and he finished with 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in the game. Meralco, as a team, shot 51% from the field and limited Ginebra to just 37%.
This marked the second straight game that Meralco had clobbered a contender. Last Sunday, they demolished the Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beer, 125-99, behind Durham and Baser Amer who combined for 55 points.
For Durham, their victories over Ginebra and San Miguel were a statement.
"We just try to let everybody know that we are for real," said Durham, who led the Bolts to runner-up finishes in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Governors' Cup, both times falling to Ginebra in classic Finals series.
"We're a real team. And I told them in the beginning, you know, we gotta let them know that that wasn’t a fluke and we gotta keep playing our game and playing hard defense and running," he added.
"That's what we did tonight."
Their victory over Ginebra hiked Meralco's record to 6-2, putting them at solo third and assuring them of a quarterfinal spot.
However, Durham warned that they cannot be satisfied with their current level of play as they have yet to achieve their goal for the conference.
"It don't mean nothing," Durham said of their wins over Ginebra and SMB. "We got three more games."
"We gotta finish off the elimination round and we wanna finish strong going into the quarterfinals and stuff like that," he said. "So, [it's] just another step in where we’re trying to go."
"Now, we gotta make sure that we validate these wins with finishing up the right way."
If they continue to build on their wins over Ginebra and San Miguel, Durham has no doubt that they can return to the Finals once more after bowing out in the quarterfinals last year.
"It all starts with defense," he said. "We got to be stout, we got to by physical, and we got to finish every possession by getting a rebound and then we can run, and that kind of sparks our whole offense."
"If we do that, we got a chance to beat anybody," he stressed.
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