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Delroy James’ gamble eventually gets Norman Black’s seal of approval

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Delroy James on Wednesday evening finally tasted how it’s like to score a sweet victory in the PBA.

It became possible when his Meralco Bolts escaped Chris McCullough and the San Miguel Beermen, 96-91, to earn a chance of making it into the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals.

“That’s what it’s for. It is my first win,” exhaled James, who lost his first two games in the league.

And the 6-foot-8 forward — the Bolts’ third import in the tilt — was a huge factor behind the much-needed win.

James scored the Bolts’ last six points, including back-to-back hits inside the game’s final 1:03 — both of those came from his huge defensive plays against counterpart Chris McCullough.

And his last bucket with 32.3 ticks left to play wasn’t actually supposed to happen — Meralco head coach Norman Black wanted to call for a timeout, but James waved it off and drove hard.

Black, himself one of the greatest PBA imports ever, then gave James a thumbs up when he made his shot.

“It was a momentum thing,” explained James. “It was like, we probably called a timeout in trying to get me the best shot and I felt in that moment that was the shot I think I could have got.

“I felt like at that moment, there was no need because I was in a good groove to try to make something happen.”

James finished with a game-high 34 points, along with six assists, five rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.

Wednesday’s victory meant so much for the Orangemen, as it gave them a new lease in life. They will now fight for the eighth and final quarterfinal spot against the Alaska Aces this Friday.

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“It’s good to take this win, continue playing in the conference and then try to get another one on Friday,” James said.

“Just got to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead.”

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