The 2017 Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup finals begins on Friday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.
Barangay Ginebra and Meralco will figure in a rematch most PBA fans have been looking forward to for a year now.
Last season, the Bolts were able to draw first blood in the seven-game series and even took a 2-1 lead before eventually succumbing to the Kings on a game-winning, championship-clinching three-pointer from Justin Brownlee in Game 6.
This time, however, Ginebra wants to make sure they get the upperhand early in the series.
“That’s coach Tim’s (Cone) biggest thing in a series, get Game 1. He reminded us today actually that they got Game 1 last time but we were able to battle through it,” Ginebra forward Joe Devance said at the finals press conference on Tuesday.
“Hopefully we can come out here and get Game 1. Of course it’s gonna be tough because it’s out of town, but it’s the same for both teams.”
The Bolts could crush Ginebra’s chance of a back-to-back by parading a stronger lineup than what they had in last season’s finals. They’ve since added veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo, Baser Amer has slowly grown to be one of the better scoring guards in the league, and a healthy Jared Dillinger could definitely help Meralco’s cause.
The only thing different for Ginebra this time around is having another body in the mix in Greg Slaughter. The Kings’ big man failed to play in last season’s finals due to an injury. But Slaughter made a return this conference and has been instrumental in the team’s return trip to the championship.
In the eliminations, Ginebra cruised to an 8-3 record to secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, where they easily discarded the San Miguel Beermen.
After taking care of business against the TNT Katropa in the next round, it seems as if Ginebra is peaking at the right time, something that could work in their favor in their quest for a repeat. But Devance believes the Kings can still find ways to get to another level in the finals.
“I think we can still play a lot better,” expressed Devance. “Having Greg back it was an adjustment at the beginning, but we worked our way to a certain point to where we know how to win games down the stretch. But do we know how to win a championship with Greg is what we need to find out.”
“We’ll see how the series goes, how the first few games go and see what we can get done,” he said.