by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
6:30 p.m. – Ginebra vs Magnolia
Meralco will keep dancing past midnight after needing an overtime period to complete a stunning upset of fancied Phoenix, 108-103, in a highly-intense do-or-die quarterfinal match and advance to the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Back-to-back threes by Baser Amer capped off a run of eight straight points to start the extra five-minute session, a cushion the Bolts needed to pull away from an equally-determined Fuel Masters side and earn the right to face the Alaska Aces in a best-of-five semis.
Amer waxed hot when needed to finish with 26 points, providing support for import Allen Durham who did the heavy lifting on his way to 32 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists as Meralco completed an unlikely trip to the Final four after a bad start in the season-ending conference.
Meralco displayed resilience by erasing a 16-point second quarter deficit before keeping its poise in overtime after Phoenix tied the score at 94-all in regulation on rookie Jason Perkins’ right-elbow triple.
“What a hill we have to climb to get to this point,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “It’s almost every game is pressure-laden for us, and there’s really not much room for error as far as execution and our desire to win is concerned. I’m really happy for my players.”
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia are bracing for a battle of wits right from the onset when they start their best-of-five series at 6:30 tonight at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Ginebra beat Magnolia, 93-86, last Oct. 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco 108 – Durham 32, Amer 26, Newsome 19, Salva 8, Canaleta 7, Hugnatan 6, Faundo 4, Dillinger 2, Caram 2, Tolomia 2.
Phoenix 103 – Perkins 24, Wright 20, Phelps 18, Chua 13, Abueva 10, Intal 10, Wilson 5, Revilla 2, Jazul 1, Kramer 0.
Quarters: 22-27, 40-50, 70-68, 94-94, 108-103.