BINAN, Laguna - Yousef Taha is certainly repaying the faith of Purefoods coach Tim Cone.
A unheralded center who couldn't even stick with several PBA teams he joined, Taha once again shone as the unlikely hero for Purefoods in a hard-earned 77-74 win over Meralco in a Philippine Cup road game at the Alonte Sports Arena on Sunday night.
The 6-7 journeyman matched his career-high with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting while hauling down nine rebounds to help Purefoods sustain its recovery after a poor start to the season.
Taha scored eight points in the fourth quarter alone, including a string of six straight crucial baskets that gave the reigning grand slam champions the lead in the endgame after trailing for much of the second half.
PJ Simon had a team-high 19 points for Purefoods, which won its third straight game to move up to sixth in the standings at 4-3, just behind joint fourth placers Barangay Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text (5-3).
After winning in front of a pro-Barangay Ginebra crowd at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Friday, Meralco appeared set for another ‘road’ win after another scintillating third quarter that saw the Bolts go on a 10-0 run to take a 43-40 lead before ending the quarter with a 59-52 spread.
The Bolts last held a 67-66 lead before Taha took over in the game with inside points to lead the rally before Joe Devance hit a jumper for a 74-67 lead with 1:19 left in the fourth.
Down 74-77, the Bolts still had one last chance to salvage the win but Jared Dillinger missed a three-point try and Mark Macapagal failed to throw up another shot from downtown with Marc Pingris defending him.
Purefoods (77) — Simon 18, Barroca 16, Taha 14, Yap 11, Devance 7, Pingris 4, Maliksi 4, Mallari 3, Melton 0, Reavis 0.
Meralco (74) — David 20, Dillinger 12, Hodge 9, Macapagal 9, Caram 8, Hugnatan 4, Atkins 3, Cortez 2, Ferriols 2, Buenafe 2, Sena 2, Guevarra 0.
Quarterscores: 18-16, 40-33, 52-59, 77-74.