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Meralco’s comeback OT win completes Final Four cast



Down by as many as 20 points, Meralco used a huge fourth quarter rampage to overcome the deficit, head into overtime, and defeat the NLEX Road Warriors in the last game of the quarterfinals, 91-85 to punch in the last seat in the playoff picture held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Thornton started the second half with a wide open triple that started the NLEX breakaway in the period. While the Bolts found a difficult time making their field goals, including shots from the charity stripe, Asi Taulava and Jonas Villanueva made baskets from the interior to extend the Road Warriors lead to 16, 53-37.

Thornton punched in two more triples including a fade away from the corner while also adding a three-point play off a fastbreak to extend the lead to its largest, 64-44. NLEX’s defense focused on Josh Davis who seemed to be the lone offensive spark for the Bolts. The Meralco import sliced the lead down to 13 with his free throws while Mike Cortez stopped a three-on-one fastbreak by NLEX just before the teams headed into the fourth.

In the first minutes of the last quarter, the teams exchanged baskets that went in favor of NLEX, who led majority of the game. However, Gary David and Josh Davis started to catch fire from downtown and inside respectively as they were able to crawl back to as low as four, 76-80 with 4:47 left to play. The duo also tied the game at 82 with two minutes to play as they denied Thornton touches on the defensive end that made the offensive flow stagnant for the Road Warriors.

Al Thornton had a chance to win it at the buzzer but his turnaround jumper went in and out that signaled the end of regulation with the scoreboard showing the same score for the two teams.

Meralco outscored NLEX 6-3 in the first three minutes in the overtime period including a breakaway lay up by David. Thornton hoisted up a three pointer that went wide while Cliff Hodge delivered on a huge baseline jumper on the other end to extend the Bolts lead to five. Asi Taulava failed to convert on the other end and in the next play, Hodge grabbed the seemingly game-sealing offensive board that led to two more points by Davis from the foul stripe.

Meralco committed less turnovers 10-20 while also grabbing majority of the rebounds, 57-42. The Bolts book a date with Rain or Shine in the best-of-five series in the semis.

The scores:

Meralco (91) – David 31, Davis 25, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 6, Cortez 4, Ferriols 4, Ildefonso 2, Caram 2, Reyes 0, Wilson 0, Anthony 2, Macapagal 0

NLEX (82) – Thornton 32, Raymundo 12, Villanueva 12, Taulava 10, Cardona 6, Villanueva 4, Apinan 3, Canaleta 3, Borboran 3, Ramos 0, Lingganay 0

Quarters: 17-20, 32-42, 53-67, 82-82, 91-85

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