He may be remembered by Ginebra’s legion of fans as the hero of Game 2 for his go-ahead putback in the dying seconds. But Fil-Am spitfire guard Sol Mercado showed he’s more than just a scorer.
Aside from burying a crucial putback to help Ginebra preserve a 82-79 win Sunday, the six-foot Mercado also held his ground in defending Meralco’s hulking import Allen Durham throughout the game as the Kings tied the title series at 1-1.
The 32-year old combo guard, who was surprised on his starter role, spoiled Durham’s night after receiving his Best Import award before the start of Game 2, limiting the comebacking PBA reinforcement to just 22 points after exploding for 46 in Game 1.
“From the beginning I started on Durham, just trying to get him out of his spots, fronting him and try to make him work,” said Mercado. “I was trying to run him out of the perimeter, stay in front of him. He’s a really good player.”
Mercado said he volunteered to defend Durham after their Game 1 loss with assistant coach Richard del Rosario. He was later, surprised as head coach Tim Cone granted his wish.
“Coach Tim put that trust on me, and before the game I don’t know I was a starter, so I’m excited to the challenge,” shared Mercado, who finished with 12 points, to go with six rebounds and four assists.
The stocky guard however, deflected the import stopper tag despite being the assigned player in their previous semifinal series against San Miguel’s Elijah Millsap.
“I wouldn’t say I’m an import stopper. It takes a whole team to do that,” he said. “They are imports for a reason. That guy’s the Best Import this conference for a reason so we try to collectively do it. I’m just the guy who stays in front, it’s definitely a team effort,” he said. – Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH