Alaska Import Mike Harris deflected the credit to his ‘can’t miss’ teammates despite another monster showing in the Aces’ big 100-95 escape act from the erstwhile-streaking Meralco in Game 2 of their 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup best-of-five semi-final series, Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
For him, his 37-point and 19-rebound outing could have gone down the drain if not for the free throw heroics of his teammates in the dying seconds.
“The biggest thing I think was we stepped up to make our free throws,” said Harris, who also hit a clutch jumper in the last 32 seconds to give Alaska a 94-90 gap.
That separation was almost insufficient, as the Bolts launched one last push behind Allen Durham and Chris Newsome before Jvee Casio hit four straight free throws. Simon Enciso also went perfect from the line in the last 1.8 seconds to seal the Aces’ hard-earned Game Two win.
In total, Alaska shot 20-of-21 from the stripe, which Harris pointed to as the deciding factor in the victory.
“We shot the ball really well from the line and they shot the ball really well from the three. But we made our free throws. We only missed by one and that was great,” he added.
“It was a great team win.”
Aside from free throws, Harris also rued their good start this time, which they failed to make in Game One where they fell to an early 34-47 halftime deficit en route to a 92-97 loss.
“The biggest thing we changed was we came out early with a defensive mindset. We kinda slowed them down and tried to make them uncomfortable,” he said.
“They’re a hard-nosed defensive team but we’re able to get the lead.”
In the win, however, Harris was particularly impressed by Meralco’s heart, especially from two-time Best Import Allen Durham, who went back-and-forth with him all game-long to finish with a near triple-double of 24 points, a season-low nine rebounds, and 12 assists.
“That’s playoff basketball, that’s what we expected, that team does not quit. We’re fortunate enough to come out with the win,” he emphasized.
“Allen’s a great player. When you play against a great player, you don’t expect anything less. He doesn’t quit. He just continues to keep going and going and going. It’s really hard to stop a guy like him. Were just trying to make shots difficult as possible for him.”