Allein Maliksi took over as Meralco thwarted Rain or Shine, 103-95, to end its PBA On Tour campaign on a high, Friday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The veteran gunner fired 13 of his 18 points in the final period, including the last nine points of the Bolts’ finishing 14-3 run to frustrate the Elasto Painters, which held a 92-89 lead with 2:53 left to play after being down 12 early.
“Allein, nag-struggle siya, medyo gigil siya eh, and then he came in and he was able to step up for us in the end,” said head coach Luigi Trillo.
Maliksi’s heroics preserved the efforts of Raymar Jose, who top-scored for Meralco with 22 points alongside 18 rebounds.
Ditto with veteran big man Raymond Almazan, who provided 18 points and 15 rebounds as the frontcourt stepped it up a notch with Cliff Hodge out.
Aaron Black, on the other hand, registered a triple-double with 15 markers, 10 boards, and 10 dimes in 37 minutes of play.
Black himself kick-started the Bolts’ finishing rally, converting a three-point play to tie the game at 92-all with 2:09 remaining in the final period.
Jose then delivered the go-ahead bucket through an up-and-under shortly after, and Maliksi took it from there to complete the comeback.
Winger Alvin Pasaol added 12 points and seven rebounds as a starter for Meralco, who finished the On Tour with a 7-4 record.
“Just a team effort,” lauded Trillo. “I noticed Rain or Shine is a team na madami sila, they get a lot of players to play. So it’s nice that everybody stepped up.”
Mac Belo, meanwhile, finished with 22 points to lead Rain or Shine, seemingly motivated to perform as he went up against his ex-team for the first time since being traded in exchange for Norbert Torres in a straight-up swap last May.
Santi Santillan made 13 points on 15 shots with seven rebounds. Gian Mamuyac and Andrei Caracut had 11 points apiece while Nick Demusis added 10 markers for the Elasto Painters, who ended the tilt with an 8-3 card.
RoS will end the On Tour as its second-best team behind Magnolia (11-0).
Meralco 103 – Jose 22, Almazan 18, Maliksi 18, Black 15, Pasaol 12, Dario 9, Quinto 5, Rios 2, Pascual 2, Torres 0.
Rain or Shine 95 – Belo 22, Santillan 13, Mamuyac 11, Caracut 11, Demusis 10, Belga 9, Clarito 6, Asistio 5, Nambatac 4, Ildefonso 2, Ponferrada 2, Borboran 0.
Quarterscores: 26-22, 55-50, 73-71, 103-95.