MERALCO sustained its late-season resurgence on Wednesday night by defeating Phoenix, 90-74, and forcing a decider in their PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal playoff at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Import Allen Durham led the way in the third quarter when the seventh-seeded Bolts pulled away for good to drag No. 2 seed Phoenix into a sudden-death match on Friday for a place in the semifinals.
Meralco has now won five straight games to keep alive its title bid in this conference where the Bolts finished runners-up to Ginebra the past two seasons.
“Tonight was all about our defense,” Meralco coach Norman Black said. “From start to finish, we were able to execute defensively.
"First half, we struggled to score the basketball mainly because Phoenix is also a very good defensive team. We really clamped down better on defense and our shots started falling (in the second half).”
Durham finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks, while Chris Newsome added 16 points. Baser Amer added 14 points and six assists for Meralco.
Durham and Amer scored the last eight points in a 12-0 barrage that put the Bolts ahead for good, 60-45.
Phoenix finished with its lowest output in a game in head coach Louie Alas’ tenure, tying the 74 points it scored in a loss to TNT in the 2018 Philippine Cup, according to PBA statistics chief Fidel Mangonon.
Eugene Phelps scored 27 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, while Calvin Abueva had 18 points and 12 rebounds but fouled out with three minutes left in the game.
Meralco 90 – Durham 26, Newsome 16, Amer 14, Tolomia 9, Canaleta 9, Hugnatan 7, Salva 5, Faundo 2, Dillinger 2, Hodge 0, Caram 0, Ballesteros 0, Jamito 0.
Phoenix 74 – Phelps 27, Abueva 18, Perkins 9, Wright 8, Chua 5, Intal 4, Jazul 2, Revilla 0, Kramer 0, Mendoza 0, Wilson 0.
Quarters: 15-17; 33-35; 66-55; 90-74.