ANTIPOLO – Meralco asserted its mastery of Mahindra on Saturday, dispatching the Enforcer, 105-82, to advance to the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Ynares Center.
The Bolts made up for a slow start with a strong finish as they completed a hat-trick of victories over the Enforcer this conference to get past the quarterfinals over without needing their twice-to-beat advantage.
Allen Durham powered the Bolts with 24 points, 16 boards, and six assists, while Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge energized the squad, which made back-to-back semifinal appearances for the first time in franchise history.
“We thought it was a must-win situation because we knew if we lost, we would give them confidence,” Bolts coach Norman Black said.
The Bolts will face either sister team TNT Katropa or Phoenix in the next round, a best-of-five series.
The Enforcer, on the other hand, kissed their season goodbye after wasting what had been a promising campaign where they started with six wins in their first eight games, carving out a reputation as a giant-slayer.
Trailing by 15 points early in the second quarter, the Bolts buckled down to work to turn the game around at the half, before pulling away in the third quarter to frustrate the Enforcer anew.
Newsome scored 13 of his 19 points in the middle quarters to spark the Bolts’ breakaway, while Hodge added 14 points, seven boards, and three assists.
James White led the Enforcer in a losing effort with 20 points and 10 boards, but Aldrech Ramos could only contribute three points in 17 minutes as a starter in the team’s most important game of the tournament.
MERALCO 105 – Durham 24, Newsome 19, Hodge 14, Dillinger 12, Amer 7, Alapag 6, Faundo 6, Hugnatan 6, Nabong 5, Caram 2, Chua 2, Guevarra 2, Uyloan 0, Al-Hussaini 0, Buenafe 0
MAHINDRA 82 – White 20, Digregorio 14, Guinto 8, Agovida 7, Paniamogan 7, Taha 6, Canaleta 5, Jaime 5, Ballesteros 4, Ramos 3, Revilla 3, Bagatsing 0, Gallanza 0, Yee 0
Quarterscores: 18-26, 50-45, 84-61, 105-82