MERALCO stunned San Miguel, 95-91, on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to earn a playoff shot at the eighth and final quarterfinal spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Import Delroy James scored six straight points to help the Bolts stop a five-game losing skid and join Alaska and Phoenix Pulse in a three-way logjam for eighth place on 4-7 (win-loss) records.
Meralco and Alaska, however, got the two places in the sudden-death playoff for the eighth spot due to superior quotients over Phoenix Pulse, which was eliminated outright.
San Miguel, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak come to an end and finished the elims at 5-6, its playoff position now dependent on the result of the TNT-Magnolia game later in the night.
A loss by Magnolia will drop San Miguel to seventh place in the standings - and twice-to-win disadvantage against NorthPort in the pairings - and move Rain or Shine up to sixth seed in the quarterfinals.
The result also guaranteed a best-of-three series between No. 4 seed Barangay Ginebra and No. 5 Magnolia in the Final Eight.
“It was a game we really needed,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “We really needed it very badly just to stay alive … Good effort for my players offensively and defensively. A lot of guys stepped up for us.”
James led Meralco with 34 points and finished the game with a flourish. He scored on a layup to tie the game at 89, and scored again to keep the game tied at 93 with 1:03 remaining.
After forcing a turnover against San Miguel import Chris McCollough, James scored another lay-up with 32.3 seconds left to create and separation.
Chris Newsome backed up James with 20 points while Raymond Almazan added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Bolts.
McCollough scored 27 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and had three blocks while Fajardo added 27 points and 13 rebounds for San Miguel.
Meralco 95 – James 34, Newsome 20, Almazan 15, Faundo 10, Amer 8, Jackson 3, Quinto 3, Hodge 2, Salva 0, De Ocampo 0.
San Miguel 91 – McCollough 27, Fajardo 27, Romeo 11, Standhardinger 9, Santos 6, Pessumal 3, Lassiter 3, Nabong 3, Ross 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 22-21; 42-42; 74-70; 95-91.