MIKE Harris sank a three-point play with 16.1 seconds left as Alaska outduelled Meralco in a battle royale, 104-102, on Thursday night to move within a win of reaching the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Harris scored 31 points, grabbed 24 rebounds, and handed out seven assists as he carried Alaska on his shoulders in a well-played, back-and-forth game that left both sides exhausted at the end of 48 minutes of play.
The NBA veteran capped his game-long heroics with the putback of his own miss and the and one that made it 104-102 before Meralco import Allen Durham missed a short stab, Reynel Hugnatan a tip-in try and Anjo Caram a turnaround jumper at the buzzer.
“Alam niyo ‘yung expression na your heart is in your throat?” said a relieved Alaska coach Alex Compton of the thrilling endgame. “They are tipping the ball around, tipping the ball around, and even Anjo Caram's last shot. That was a huge game.”
The thrilling win gave the third-seeded Aces a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.They get a chance to close out the Bolts - runners-up in the last two editions of this conference - on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Alaska is looking to return to the finals for the first time since losing to Rain or Shine in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.
One conference before that, Alaska lost in that epic Philippine Cup Finals where San Miguel became the first team in PBA history to come back from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series.
Simon Enciso backed up Harris with 17 points, including a couple of big threes for the Aces in the endgame, while Chris Banchero also had 17 points, six rebounds, and two assists.
Durham’s had 37 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists for the Bolts. Hugnatan added 19 points.
Alaska 104 – Harris 31, Enciso 17, Banchero 17, Baclao 11, Manuel 8, Casio 7, Thoss 6, Cruz 4, Racal 3, Potts 0, Exciminiano 0.
Meralco 102 – Durham 37, Hugnatan 19, Newsome 18, Amer 11, Faundo 4, Caram 4, Salva 3, Lanete 3, Dillinger 3, Tolomia 0, Canaleta 0.
Quarters: 25-22; 47-53; 75-74; 104-102.