MERALCO clinched at least a playoff for the eighth and final quarterfinal spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup after a big win over San Miguel, 111-81, on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts used a huge second half burst to extend their winning streak to four games while also ending the Beermen’s four-game winning streak.
After a conference where they lost six straight games, the Bolts, who improved to 5-6, moved closer to clinching a quarterfinal spot. A TNT win over Ginebra will arrange a playoff for the eighth-seed between the KaTropa and the Bolts on Tuesday.
A TNT loss to Ginebra, meanwhile, will give Meralco the seventh-seed while sending NLEX to the eighth-seed.
Allen Durham had 35 points, 26 rebounds, and seven assists, while also getting a big lift from the locals led by Reynel Hugnatan, who had 19 points in the crucial contest.
Incidentally, Hugnatan celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday.
“I wasn’t really sure how we will play tonight. We’ve been off for 12 days. When you are off that long, you are not really sure how the team will come out and respond to the game,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
“We knew we really had to fight tonight because we are playing San Miguel who we consider probably the most talented team in the league. We have to come out and play good offense, play good defense, basically play good basketball,” said Black.
The Bolts overcame a 17-0 Beermen second-quarter run with a 34-15 third quarter to pull away for good.
Kevin Murphy had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Beermen, who will end up as the sixth seed in the quarterfinals where they will face third-ranked Alaska.
MERALCO 111 – Durham 35, Hugnatan 19, Newsome 14, Amer 12, Hodge 9, Canaleta 8, Salva 6, Caram 6, Faundo 2, Tolomia 0, Bono 0, Jamito 0.
SMB 81 – Murphy 32, Cabagnot 16, Santos 11, Lassiter 8, Standhardinger 6, Pessumal 5, Nabong 2, Fajardo 1, Heruela 0, Ross 0, Vigil 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 26-25; 44-49; 78-66; 111-81.