Black says size, experience make Ginebra tough to defend in Finals

Meralco dominated Barangay Ginebra in their only match in the PBA Governors’ Cup last July 23. But for Norman Black, that was ages ago. In fact, the American mentor knows the Kings are playing their own brand of basketball these days as they try to win back-to-back PBA titles in the third conference.

Black, who distinguished himself, along with Ginebra coach Tim Cone as the only coaches in league history to win at least 1 PBA grand slam title, admitted Ginebra’s stacked-up roster can easily pose all kinds of problems for the Bolts.

“Ginebra is probably the best team in the league that can score with the last 4 or 5 seconds left in the shot clock,” observed Black on Tuesday, just moments after the Finals press conference held at the Sambokojin Restaurant in Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City.

“They’re very good at moving the basketball, and they lead the league in assists and they score a lot of their baskets in the last 1,2,3, 4 seconds of the shot clock while they also shoot at a high percentage.”

The Bolts dumped the Kings, 93-78 in their lone collision last July 23.

But Tim Cone-mentored teams over the years are known for having slow starts during the conference. And the Kings are no different from that fact.

Ginebra though has been on a tear in the playoffs as evidenced by how it ended San Miguel Beer’s grand slam bid last Sept. 27 when the Kings scored a respunding 104-84 quarterfinal victory.

For Black, even if the Bolts can have some measure of success in the fastbreak department, they will still have to deal with the Kings’ halfcourt offense when they have the front court dueo of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, as well as import Justin Brownlee.

“Even if you have success running against them, you still have to defend them at the halfcourt because they execute very, very well,” shared the 59-year-old Meralco coach.

One thing going well for Meralco, is the fact that top Best Import candidate Allen Durham has developed into a well-rounded player.

Aside from his 20-20 averages (25.4 points and 20.1 rebounds) this conference, the hulking Durham has also improved his passing game as seen in his 6.8 assists per contest, tops among imports.

“I think he’s become more of a playmaker.  He’s done a very good job of getting his teammates involved this year because he’s averaging almost 7 assists a game,” shared Black.

“More importantly, he got hurt in the series last year, and not a lot of people know that.  But this year, he’s (Durham) healthy, so I just hope he remains healthy through the entire series.”

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