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Meralco outlasts valiant Star in OT to return to Governors’ Cup Finals


The Meralco Bolts are heading back to the Governor’s Cup Finals as they averted a meltdown and escaped the Star Hotshots in overtime, 91-88, in Game Three of their semis series, Thursday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“It was a hard-fought victory,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “We knew we really had to gut it out. But in the end it was all really worth it… Hats off to my players, they’re the reason why we’re in the Finals again.”

“It’s nice to be back in the Finals,” added the multi-titled mentor.

Five Orangemen scored in double figures in the victory, with import Allen Durham on top with 24 points to go with 19 rebounds and six assists. Cliff Hodge scored 18, while Ranidel De Ocampo finished with 13 markers.

The Bolts were in control entering the second half, 54-43, but the Hotshots regained their bearings in the third and unleashed its strength come the final frame. Jio Jalalon’s put-back sent Star to an 83-79 lead with 2:26 on the clock.

Despite the pressure piling up on their side, Meralco managed to respond behind Durham and Chris Newsome. The latter’s and-one bucket — a lay-up off a strong drive — over Marc Pingris tied the match at 83-all with 1:22 to go.

Star had chances to break the deadlock, but Jalalon’s pull-up jumper all over the defense of De Ocampo with less than 15 ticks remaining and Mark Barroca’s three-pointer from the wing with 3.1 seconds left both missed.

Durham tried to win the bout for the Bolts but his jumper from the left baseline fell short, sending the game into an extra five minutes.

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The Orangemen then made sure to limit Star come the extra period. They forced them into plenty of misses, while they made an 8-2 run — capped by a booming Hodge triple from the wing — to erect a 91-85 lead with 15.5 seconds left.

Barroca still willed his team with a pull-up trey of his own, 91-88, with 11.7 seconds left, but the Bolts’ defense was too tight to escape. Jalalon was trapped outside, and his failure to hoist up a shot signaled Meralco’s victory.

Baser Amer and Jared Dillinger each supplied 10 points for Meralco.

The Hotshots’ loss wasted the effort of Barroca, who powered the team in gold with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Pingris provided 16 markers and six boards, while Jalalon produced 12 points on 18 attempts.

The Bolts, now on their second Finals appearance in team history. will wait for the winner of the Ginebra-TNT series, which is tied at 1-1, to serve as their opponents in the title match.

The Scores:

Meralco 91 – Durham 24, Hodge 18, De Ocampo 13, Amer 10, Dillinger 10, Newsome 9, Hugnatan 7, Lanete 0, Tolomia 0.

Star 88 – Barroca 21, Pingris 16, Jalalon 12, Sangalang 8, Ramos 8, Dela Rosa 7, Reavis 6, Acox 4, Gamalinda 3, Melton 3, Simon 0.

Quarterscores: 30-27, 54-43, 69-68, 91-88.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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