Meralco overcomes Phoenix twice-to-beat edge to enter PBA semis
Meralco erased a twice-to-beat disadvantage and dropped Phoenix in heart-stopping fashion, 108-103, in overtime in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts, who started the conference at 1-6, were riding a five-game winning streak heading into the decider against the Fuel Masters and will now face Alaska in the semifinals. All of their last victories were do-or-die games.
Baser Amer caught fire at the start of the extra period hitting back-to-back threes to give Meralco a 102-94 lead with 3:28 left to play.
Meralco wasn’t just hitting its shots early in overtime as it also prevented the Fuel Masters from achieving any form of offensive rhythm.
The Fuel Masters’ first field goal in overtime came more than three minutes into the period after Calvin Abueva drove for an and-one layup with 1:56 left to play cutting Meralco’s lead to four, 102-98.
“Phoenix wouldn’t give up and those guys fought through the end,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black. “It’s just the desire of my players to continue winning, this is a conference where we’ve actually done well for the past two years.”
Black added that everything started with import Allen Durham who has led the team to two straight runners-up finishes and those strong campaigns were always at the back of the Bolts’ minds.
“With Allen Durham with us, it would be pretty bad for us if we’re eliminated immediately and that’s why everybody’s been fighting,” said Black. “We have a really good import and all we have to do is step up and support him.”
Meralco was down 91-84 with 3:29 left in the game but went on a spirited 10-0 run to take a 94-91 lead after Reynel Hugnatan’s free throws with 19 seconds left.
Jason Perkins, however, forced overtime after hitting a big three-pointer with 7.4 seconds left to tie the game at 94.
Durham powered Meralco with 32 points, 21 rebounds, and nine assists while Amer had 26 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Perkins led Phoenix with 24 points and six rebounds while Eugene Phelps put up 18 points, 23 boards, and seven assists.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.