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Jan 16, 2020

Kings go for finishing touches as Bolts try to live another day

And it's closing time.

With great jobs in the last two games, the Barangay Ginebra Kings have sent the Meralco Bolts to the ropes, needing one last punch to end the series and claim a third crown in the PBA Governors Cup in the last four years.

Rumbling like Taal, the Kings take their first shot to finish off the beleaguered Bolts at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

With a commanding 3-1 lead, coach Tim Cone and his troops are not about to go easy, maintaining it's not easy to close out a series.

"That's the toughest thing to do in a series," said Cone, vowing, though, that they would go for it to nail a fourth crown overall for the Kings since his transfer to the Ginebra franchise in 2014.

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"We have to be careful with that. Mahirap kalabanin ang team na their backs are against the wall," said Ginebra chief playmaker LA Tenorio. "We know Meralco, kaya nilang manalo ng three straight sa amin. But it's up to us not to make that happen. Nasa sa amin na yun kung gusto naming papanalunin sila ng three straight or we finish it on Friday."

For the Bolts, the only option is to regroup, and try to fight back or it's all over in their bid to finally pull one over fierce rival Ginebra.

The question is how to stop a Ginebra juggernaut with the limping Meralco crew.

"We have to come back and fight on Friday or we may be in for the same," said Meralco coach Norman Black, fearing a repeat of their Game Four blowout loss if they don't come together in Game Five.

"We just have to figure out a way to bounce back, and come up and play basketball," added Black, who was utterly disappointed with their 72-94 rout by the Kings Wednesday at the Big Dome.

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He attended the postgame interview long after the game was over and minced no words to express his disappointment.

"I'm a little bit embarrassed with the way the team played, the effort we gave. And for me it's an embarrassment to the PBA that we came out and didn't give them a better fight," said Black.

"As a basketball coach, I'm a little bit embarrassed by it, to be honest with you," he added. "You can tell by my voice and my face that I'm not too happy right now."

He didn't cite Raymond Almazan's injury as an excuse, ruing they were badly beaten on hustle plays.

"We didn't get back defensively. We didn't' match up. We gave them way too many easy shots, too many lay-ups. Normally what happens when you can score easily inside the paint, you're confidence goes up from the outside," he said.

On a deep 1-3 hole, the Bolts have no option now but to win three in a row to salvage the series.

But how do you do that against a fired-up, inspired, motivated rival rumbling like Taal? (SB)