Meralco pulled off a Sunday shocker, fighting back from 20 points down in the third quarter and then beating out NLEX, 91-85, in overtime to book the last berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday.
Struggling through the first 40 minutes, the Bolts picked up their game at the finish, fashioning out a stirring come-from-behind win to complete a two-game sweep of the Road Warriors in their best-of-three quarterfinals showdown.
Gary David, Reynel Hugnatan and import Josh Davis stood out for the Bolts as they got past the Road Warriors to advance to the best-of-five semifinals versus the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
“I thought my team played with lots of guts in the second half. It’s a gutsy performance and it’s nice to be in the semis,” said coach Norman Black.
“It feels good to have this achievement with Meralco,” Black also said after steering the Bolts to the semifinals in his second conference with the team.
Black, however, expects a tough series against the Elasto Painters especially with Jared Dillinger out for the rest of the conference.
David scored 18 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime while Davis and Hugnatan combined for 14 in that stretch where Meralco made a great effort to turn the game around.
The three delivered the firepower while the rest of the team had their contribution on a choking defense they applied to overcome a 20-point deficit at 64-44.
They forced overtime at 82-all and finally moved ahead at 84-82 on a jumper by David.
The Road Warriors briefly regained the upper hand at 85-84 on a three-point play by Asi Taulava then the Bolts completely seized control.
The Bolts held the Road Warriors down to four points in the last eight minutes of regulation play to force the overtime at 82-all.
The Road Warriors had the last possession with 20 ticks left. Thornton let the clock run before attacking and attempting a turnaround shot that missed at the buzzer.
NLEX was still in full control at 78-64 before losing steam. (SB)
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