MERALCO stunned San Miguel Beer, 106-99, on Saturday night to force sudden death in their PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal matchup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts climbed out of an early hole then weathered a late comeback by the second-seeded Beermen to pull off the hard-earned win.
The winner-take-all match for a berth in the semifinals opposite Rain or Shine is set on Monday also at the Big Dome.
Andre Emmett delivered as usual with 28 points, 10 boards, four assists, and two steals, while Kelly Nabong and Jared Dillinger provided the spark off the bench for the Bolts.
“What we got today from the team was exactly what we needed,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We needed big performances from a lot of players and I believe quite a few players stepped up and helped us win.”
Nabong was the role player who shone brightest as the serviceable big man, who came in averaging less than five points per game, tallied 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 12 boards in just 23 minutes.
The mid-conference acquisition also did a decent defensive job on SMB stalwart June Mar Fajardo to earn Player of the Game honors for the Bolts, who erased a 13-point first-quarter deficit and kept the Beermen at bay in the middle quarters.
Dillinger, on the other hand, registered 21 points as he made eight of his 10 shots, including a perfect 4-of-4 clip from three-point distance, two assists, two rebounds, and one steal against zero turnover in 26 minutes.
Fajardo still finished with 30 points on 9-of-11 shooting, nine boards, and three assists in 40 minutes, while AZ Reid added 21 points, 11 boards, six assists, and two steals against five turnovers as he played with less than a minute of rest.
Ronald Tubid led SMB’s late rally, firing 10 of his 15 points in the payoff period, where they overhauled a nine-point 99-90 deficit, only to fall short.
MERALCO 106 – Emmett 28, Dillinger 21, Nabong 15, Anthony 9, Hugnatan 9, David 9, Hodge 6, Ando 5, Cortez 4, Ildefonso 0, Ferriols 0
SMB 99 – Fajardo 30, Reid 21, Lassiter 17, Tubid 15, Ross 6, Santos 5, Lutz 3, Cabagnot 2, Reyes 0, Espinas 0
Quarterscores: 16-28, 50-49, 83-78, 106-99