MERALCO simply refuses to go away.
Given up for lost after losing six straight games in the eliminations, the audacious Bolts outlasted Phoenix in an overtime thriller, 108-103, to punch an unlikely ticket to the 2018 PBA Governors Cup semifinals.
The Bolts overcame a 16-point deficit in regulation and immediately took the control in overtime with back-to-back treys by Baser Amer to overcome No. 2 seed Phoenix's twice-to-beat advantage and book a semifinal battle with Alaska.
In all, Meralco has now won six successive do-or-die games to move three wins away from a third straight trip to the Governors Cup Finals.
The Bolts have Allen Durham and Baser Amer to thank for this great escape.
Allen Durham came an assist short of a triple-double with 32 points, 21 rebounds, and nine assists, while Amer had 26 points including five threes. The last two treys put the Bolts ahead, 102-94, to start overtime.
“What a hill we climbed to get into this point,” Meralco coach Norman Black. “It’s almost like every game for the last three weeks have been pressure-laden. There was really no room for error as far as our execution on offense and defense.
"I’m really happy for my players.”
Meralco though will play in the semifinals on very short rest as the Bolts face the Aces in Game One on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
It was a sorry end to the campaign of the Fuel Masters, who forced overtime on a triple by rookie Jason Perkins with 7.4 seconds left in regulation only to give up a bunch of points to begin the extra period.
The Fuel Masters used a 12-0 run to open a 46-30 gap in the second quarter, and was still up, 91-84, with three minutes left when Meralco went on a 10-0 run sparked by a triple by Amer to grab a 94-91 lead.
Perkins had 24 points in a game that staked his claim to the Rookie of the Year award while Matthew Wright had 20 points. Import Eugene Phelps added 18 points and 23 rebounds.
Calvin Abueva had 10 points and nine rebounds but shot just 4-of-18 from the field.
Meralco 108 – Durham 32, Amer 26, Newsome 19, Salva 8, Canaleta 7, Hugnatan 6, Faundo 4, Tolomia 2, Caram 2, Dillinger 2.
Phoenix 103 – Perkins 24, Wright 20, Phelps 18, Chua 13, Intal 10, Abueva 10, Wilson 5, Revilla 2, Jazul 1, Kramer 0.
Quarters: 22-27; 40-50; 70-68; 94-94; 108-103.