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PBA: Black, Hodge take charge in OT as Meralco evens series vs TNT

ANTIPOLO – Aaron Black and Cliff Hodge joined hands to lift Meralco past TNT in overtime, 124-117, to tie their 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series at a game apiece, Sunday night at the Ynares Center here.

The veteran big man overcame a whiplash late in regulation, scoring the Bolts’ first four points in the extra period that sparked a 10-2 run for a 122-114 lead with 2:12 left to play, the last six of which came from the lefty guard.

KJ McDaniels would hammer the nail in the coffin through a jam in the dying seconds, sealing the W and, more importantly, shifting the momentum in their favor heading into Game 3 on Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“I was hoping they would come out with more energy today,” said head coach Norman Black. “We had a hard game against Magnolia [in the quarterfinals] before we played Game 1 and it really showed in the first game.”

McDaniels powered Meralco with a conference-high 39 points and 20 rebounds, alongside four assists, three steals, and three blocks in 46 minutes.

Black had 28 points and a career-high 10 assists for his fourth career double-double — all of which he made this season. Hodge supplied 15 points and nine rebounds, while Allein Maliksi and Bong Quinto added 11 apiece.

“Aaron had a big game today and a lot of the other guys stepped up,” lauded the Grand Slam-winning bench tactician. “KJ played much better today than he did in Game 1, which probably gave us a big lift.”

Mikey Williams, on the other hand, had 29 points on six triples, seven rebounds, and six assists to lead TNT in the comeback that ultimately fell short.

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The Tropang Giga were down by a dozen at the half but Williams and fellow gunner Roger Pogoy spearheaded the third-quarter rally to put them ahead.

Coach Jojo Lastimosa’s wards even held a 109-108 lead with under two minutes left in regulation behind Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but missed two crucial free throws on separate trips to the line in the last 21 seconds.

The former NBA cager finished with 27 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field, alongside 15 rebounds and nine assists in the defeat.

The Scores:

Meralco 124 – McDaniels 39, Black 28, Hodge 15, Maliksi 11, Quinto 11, Banchero 7, Newsome 5, Caram 3, Jose 3, Almazan 2.

TNT 117 – M.Williams 29, Hollis-Jefferson 27,Castro 17, Oftana 13, Pogoy 12, Chua 11, Erram 6, Marcelo 2, Khobuntin 0, Varilla 0, Montalbo 0.

Quarters: 35-30, 59-49, 86-86, 112-112, 124-117.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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