ANTIPOLO – Aaron Black made crucial shots in overtime to help Meralco beat TNT, 124-117, on Sunday and tie their semifinal series at 1-1 in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center.
Black scored six points in a key 8-0 run that broke open what until then was a 114-114 game, saving the day for the Bolts in Game Two after they were dragged into overtime by the Tropang GIGA.
Black scored 28 points to go with a career-high 10 assists and the Bolts also got a boost from Cliff Hodge in the overtime period to avoid falling into a 0-2 hole in the best-of-five series.
Hodge blocked a lay-up by Calvin Oftana that set the stage for a Black lay-up for a 120-114 lead, just moments after he landed hard on the floor in the final seconds of regulation.
Meralco lost a 112-109 lead with 26 seconds remaining in regulation. But TNT also shot itself in the foot, missing crucial free throws including one by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 7.6 seconds left in regulation that would have given TNT the lead .
Black and Hodge's big plays preserved the efforts of KJ McDaniels, who bounced back from his flat performance in Game One by finishing with 39 points and 20 rebounds.
Hodge added 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks for Meralco, which is now looking forward to taking the lead in the series in Game Three on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco coach Norman Black was glad that his team was able to bounce back from a lopsided Game One defeat that he blamed partly on fatigue.
“I was hoping that they would come out and play with more energy today. We had a hard game against Magnolia before Game One and it showed in the first game,” said Black.
“We actually did not play some of my guys in the fourth quarter (of Game One) so that they can bring energy today. Strategy-wise, we just want to get back on defense. That’s something we did poorly in Game One."
Mikey Williams scored 29 points while Hollis-Jefferson had 27 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists for TNT, which, down 111-112, forced a turnover on the inbound pass of Chris Banchero only for their import to split his free throws.
Meralco 124 – McDaniels 39, Black 28, Hodge 15, Quinto 11, Maliksi 11, Banchero 7, Newsome 5, Caram 3, Jose 3, Almazan 2.
TNT 117 – M. Williams 29, Hollis-Jefferson 27, Castro 17, Oftana 13, Pogoy 12, Chua 11, Erram 6, Marcelo 2, Varilla 0, Khobuntin 0, Montalbo 0.
Quarters: 35-30; 59-49; 86-86; 112-112; 124-117.