Durham tows Meralco past Rain or Shine
MERALCO readily discarded the dea of replacing Allen Durham when the notion cropped up and was amply rewarded.
Durham flashed his old lethal form with 32 points in a 109-102 victory over Rain or Shine Wednesday that snapped out of a two-game slide and back into the thick of things in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chris Newsome, surprise starter Bryan Faundo, Baser Amer and Jared Dillinger did their part as Meralco got off to a sizzling start and even led by as many as 26 points late in the third quarter before coasting to victory.
The win was the third in five games for Meralco and coach Norman Black put a large chunk of the credit on Durham, who also wound up with 12 rebounds, for his fifth straight double-double, on top of five assists.
“It… helped us a great deal that Allen Durham played a lot better today,” said Black of Durham, who went into the game averaging a little under 25 points but only 15.5 points in losses to TNT KaTropa and Ginebra.
The dip in performance may have been caused by the broken nose Durham suffered in the game against Alaska last July 17, but Black maintained the idea of bringing in a replacement never crossed his mind.
“We never thought about replacing him,” stated Black.
To prove the trust in him was well-founded, Durham used the break lengthened by the All-Star Weekend to grow more accustomed and comfortable with the protective mask he’s been forced to wear since suffering the injury.
“He lacked aggressiveness, but today he was very aggressive right from the start of the game, penetrating to the basket and getting offensive rebounds. That really made a difference as far as our starters is
concerned,” added Black.
The loss cut short Rain or Shine’s winning streak at two, giving it an even 2-2 slate.
Dior Lowhorn notched 25 points and eight rebounds while Jericho Cruz, JR Quinahan and Maverick Ahganmisi each wound up with at least 11 points. But Rain or Shine’s other All-Stars in Paul Lee, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood visibly struggled.
Starter Chan scored only three points on 1-for-8 field shooting with Lee and Norwood combined for only 17 on 4-for-14 shooting in contributing to the entire team’s dismal 35-for-79 clip.
Over at the Meralco side, Newsome finished with 12 points and Faundo produced the same output for his best game yet in a Bolts uniform. Hodge added 11 and seven rebounds and Amer and Dillinger 10 markers apiece.
Dillinger scattered seven of his points in the third period and Jimmy Alapag lent a big hand with all three of his triples, the last giving the Bolts their biggest lead at 91-65.
Thanks to Norwood, Lowhorn and Ahanmisi, the E-Painters managed to close the game on a 12-0 run but that only netted it some semblance of dignity.
The end for the Elasto Painters took shape much earlier.
Lowhorn, Chan and the other starters couldn’t hold the fort, and Rain or Shine kept on going through a series of dry spells, a big no-no on this particular night and more so against a Meralco team eager to get back on track.
In all, Meralco made 46 of 83 field goal attempts, with Durham going 13-for-23, and emerged with a 54-40 advantage in points in the paint.
“We talked about it in practice because in the last couple of games we got off to horrible starts and we wanted to get off to as good start, both offfensively and defensively,” related Black.
Averaging just 17 attempts from the field in Meralco’s last two games, Durham’s offensive mind-set was readily apparent from the get-go as he went 8-for-13 from the floor for 20 points in the first half that propped his side to a 65-47 spread.
It was not just Durham, however, as Newsome and Amer also played big roles for the Bolts in taking advantage of the way Rain or Shine ended the second period in practically the same way it started the game.
Lowhorn already had 14 points and Cruz 11 at the half, but as a whole Rain or Shine made only 16 of 41 shots to Meralco’s torrid 27-of-39 field shooting.
The E-Painters actually closed to within five points and trailed by just 46-52, but missed their next seven shots from the field and committed two turnovers inside the last four minutes of the second quarter.
Amer, meanwhile, scored six of his eight second quarter points to backstop Durham’s five in padding the Bolts’ lead to 18.
Durham had eight points and Newsome six as Meralco pounced on Rain or Shine missing its first four field goal attempts and committing two miscues in the first3:10 of the game to open up with a 16-0 lead and take the opening quarter 35-21 .
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