Allen Durham will continue his mission to settle some unfinished business.
Down by as much 16 points, Durham and the Meralco Bolts persevered, rallying back before stunning the Phoenix Fuel Masters in overtime, 108-103, to advance to the semifinals of the 2018 PBA Governors Cup, Friday evening.
“What a hill we had to climb,” exhaled Meralco head coach Norman Black. “It’s almost like every have been pressure-laden and there’s not really much room for errors as far as execution. I’m really happy for my players.”
Allen Durham powered the Orangemen with 32 points, 21 rebounds, and nine assists. Baser Amer made 26 points, five boards, and four dimes, and swingman Chris Newsome had 19 points, six caroms, and four feeds as well.
The trio were pivotal in turning the Bolts’ fortunes around in the match. When their side went down by as many as 16 points in the second frame, they spearheaded Meralco’s 21-8 scoring blitz to end the third canto in their favor, 70-68.
The Fuel Masters were able to respond accordingly in the fourth quarter, as they built a seven-point wall with 3:01 remaining, but the troika plus Reynel Hugnatan made 10 straight points for a 94-91 lead with 19.4 seconds left.
Unfortunately, Jason Perkins made a booming trey 12 seconds later, and Meralco’s failure to buy a basket with 7.4 ticks left sent the game into OT.
Amer made six in the Bolts’ 8-0 run to open the extra period. Calvin Abueva then carried his team to within two, 100-102, with 1:31 left, but Hugnatan and Durham joined hands to put the finishing touches on the win.
“I felt we were playing well in this game but we weren’t clicking. Then the defense gave us the chance to win the game,” said the decorated Black.
Perkins – the Rookie of the Year award frontrunner – led the Fuel Masters with 24 points and six rebounds. Matthew Wright chimed in 20 points and six assists, while Eugene Phelps had 18 points, 23 boards, and seven dimes.
Justin Chua supplied 13 points, and Abueva finished with 10 points, nine caroms, and five feeds.
Meralco will face the Alaska Aces in the best-of-five semifinals while riding a six-game winning streak. The series begins on Sunday, November 11 at the Ynares Center.
Meralco 108 –Durham 32, Amer 26, Newsome 19, Salva 8, Canaleta 7, Hugnatan 6, Faundo 4, Dillinger 2, Caram 2, Tolomia 2.
Phoenix 103 – Perkins 24, Wright 20, Phelps 18, Chua 13, Abueva 10, Intal 10, Wilson 5, Revilla 2, Jazul 1, Kramer 0.
Quarterscores: 22-27, 40-50, 70-68, 94-94, 108-103.