MERALCO overcame an offensive outage late in regulation to hack out a 103-100 overtime victory over TNT KaTropa on Wednesday night and force a deciding game in their PBA quarterfinal series.
The Bolts wasted an early 19-point lead after going scoreless in the last six minutes of regulation and the first two minutes of the extra session, before finally regaining their touch.
Baser Amer fired a career-high 32 points, including two on a bank shot that stopped the bleeding in overtime, before Kelly Nabong brought the Bolts home in the absence of Alex Stepheson, who fouled out with a little less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“My import was in foul trouble for the majority of the game, so I have to give a lot of credit to the locals for stepping up, especially Baser Amer,” Bolts coach Norman Black said.
“We really have to get another effort like this,” he added ahead of Game Three on Friday night.
The Bolts looked headed for a lopsided win as they were up by 11 points, 92-81, with five minutes and 48 seconds, but they allowed the Texters to finish the fourth period with 11 unanswered points, capped by a free throw by TNT import Joshua Smith to drag the game to overtime.
Amer ended the drought as he scored a floater that kissed the glass and put the Bolts up for good at 94-93 with 2:54 left as the sophomore playmaker completed an outstanding performance with six boards and four assists in 43 minutes.
Nabong emerged as another hero, scoring seven of his 15 points in the extra session, the last two from the foul line that gave the Bolts a three-point lead with three seconds left as Kelly Williams’ half-court heave on the other end failed to find its mark.
Cliff Hodge and Jared Dillinger anchored the Bolts early as they finished with 15 and 12 points, respectively, while Chris Newsome made up for missed a triple that could’ve won the game for the Bolts in regulation with a short jumper in OT that padded their lead.
Stepheson finished with just seven points, 13 boards, and two blocks in 26 minutes.
Smith led the Texters with 18 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks in 33 minutes.
MERALCO 103 – Amer 32, Hodge 15, Nabong 15, Newsome 12, Dillinger 12, Stepheson 7, Hugnatan 7, Uyloan 3, Yeo 0
TNT 100 – Smith 18, Williams 16, Garcia 14, Castro 12, Semerad 10, Pogoy 9, Rosario 7, Reyes 5, Rosales 5, Tautuaa 4
Quarterscores: 32-13, 49-44, 79-73, 92-92, 103-100