The Alaska Aces-Meralco Bolts series in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals has been greatly highlighted by the titanic match-up between imports Mike Harris and Allen Durham.
Harris got the best of Durham and the Bolts in Game Three on Thursday night, scoring the Aces’ last nine points to tow the Milkmen to the 104-102 win and to the 2-1 lead in the best-of-five clash.
Harris produced 31 points, 24 rebounds, and seven assists in the victory, while Durham made 37 markers, 13 boards, and eight dimes.
The two are seen as rivals – Harris is on pace to dethrone Durham from his two-year reign as the conference’s Best Import – but that doesn’t mean respect isn’t there.
“He’s a tough guy. He’s strong. He doesn’t stop working. He’s a great player. a phenomenal player,” said Harris, who is six years older than Durham.
“And that’s what you want to play against.”
“He’s a very good player, he’s a pro, he’s a veteran so he knows what he’s doing,” shared Durham.
“The battle is definitely one of the better battles with imports this conference.”
But the final sequences of Game Three were a microcosm of how Harris has bested Durham.
In the game’s final 9.6 seconds, Harris split his freebies to lift his side to a two-point lead. With the time remaining and with the slim gap, the Bolts still had a chance to tie things up.
So Durham took it upon himself and drove straight to the rim. Unfortunately, his point-blank shot went in and out, and Harris was in the right position to tip the ball away en route to the win.
“It’s basketball. It happens. I miss some point blank shots too. He didn’t miss too many shots, I know that, so grateful to God we were able to do it,” said Harris, a former NBA veteran.
“When I saw his miss I was trying to position myself somewhere where I can tip the ball out. In that situation it was not about me try[ing] to grab the ball and hold it because there [was] little time left.
“So tip the ball as far as I could. The left-handed guy ended up getting another tip at it and then I was able to tip it and it landed in (Anjo) Caram’s hands and then I saw the clock was over,” he added.
Obviously, Durham is now in a dangerous spot after Thursday’s loss. And after seeing how Harris decimated the Bolts, he is looking for ways to stop him come Game Four on Saturday.
“We have to be ready and try to have a game plan to stop him a little bit,” he said.