CALVIN Abueva scored on a putback with 4.1 seconds left as Phoenix Pulse defeated Meralco, 93-92, in an overtime thriller opening the two teams' PBA Philippine Cup campaign at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Abueva grabbed the offensive rebound off a miss by Justin Chua to score the marginal basket, breaking the heart of a Meralco side that had grabbed the lead just moments earlier on a Chris Newsome trey.
The game-winner atoned for the game-long struggles of the enigmatic forward in his first game of the season where he scored nine points but only went 2-of-13 from the field and 5-of-10 from the charity stripe.
“Patience is a virtue,” said Phoenix Pulse coach Louie Alas. “The whole game, si Calvin hindi ko sinasabing masama ang laro. Understatement ‘yung masama. Halos less than 50 percent ‘yung free throws niya, field goal niya mababa.
"Pero sabi ng mga assistant coaches ko, kailangan natin siya sa dulo. And it happened.”
Chua topscored for Phoenix Pulse with a career-high 24 points while Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins had 18 and 13 points, respectively. Alex Mallari chipped in 11 points in his first game as a Fuel Master.
Meralco started out slow but stormed back from from 17-points down in regulation and forced overtime on a putback by Ranidel De Ocampo.
The Bolts looked headed for victory after Newsome drained a triple to put them ahead, 92-91, with 11 seconds left in overtime, only to see Abueva emerge from a rebound scrum with the ball for the winning follow-up.
Nico Salva scored a career-high 22 points in a losing cause for the Bolts.
Phoenix Pulse (93) – Chua 24, Wright 18, Perkins 13, Mallari 11, Abueva 9, Intal 8, Marcelo 6, Kramer 2, Jazul 2, Gamboa 0, Revilla 0, Mendoza 0, Dennison 0.
Meralco (92) – Salva 22, Newsome 20, Amer 10, De Ocampo 10, Hugnatan 9, Hodge 8, Faundo 4, Pinto 3, Tolomia 2, Quinto 2, Dillinger 2, Jackson 0, Canaleta 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0.
Quarters: 23-9; 41-34; 64-60; 83-83; 93-92.