By JONAS TERRADO
The Meralco Bolts are illuminating the way to the quarterfinal playoffs.
Tightening its grip on the top four spot after extending its winning run to four straight games, Meralco frustrated Columbian Dyip 92-74 in the PBA Governors’ Cup Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Allen Durham continued his dominant play by posting 34 points, 14 rebounds and five assists while Raymond Almazan produced 18 points and 24 rebounds to power the Bolts to a 7-2 record, inching closer toward claiming a twice-to-beat advantage.
The Bolts won despite sitting out ace guard Baser Amer, who was nursing a groin injury.
Coach Norman Black said Amer is listed as day-to-day and his status remains uncertain for Sunday’s match against NorthPort at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“He can actually play tonight,” Black said of Amer, who is averaging 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals this conference.
“It’s just that groin injuries are quite tricky. If you move the wrong way, sometimes you can pull it completely. So my feeling was we have a lot of battles down the road so I wanted to make sure that he be 100 percent before we allow him to play again,” he added.
Despite Amer’s absence, Meralco was able to race to an 18-5 lead courtesy mostly of Durham and Almazan.
But Columbian was able to cut Meralco lead twice in the third, the last at 52-48 on a basket by Juami Tiongson.
Almazan, Durham and Allein Maliksi were able to restore order as the Bolts brought the lead back up to double digits all the way to the end.
Rookie CJ Perez posted 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals but was held to six points in the first half as the Dyip dropped to 4-6.
Columbian leads NorthPort (3-5), percentage-wise, while allowing ninth-running Alaska (3-6) to move a half-game behind.
MERALCO 92 — Durham 34, Almazan 18, Newsome 10, Quinto 7, Maliksi 7, Caram 4, Hugnatan 3, Salva 3, Hodge 2, Pinto 2, Jamito 2, Faundo 0, Jackson 0, Jose 0.
COLUMBIAN 74 — Perez 21, Alston 19, Tiongson 9, Khobuntin 7, Cahilig 5, McCarthy 4, Reyes 3, Flores 3, Calvo 2, Faundo 1, Camson 0, Corpuz 0.
Quarters: 25-11; 45-29; 67-58; 92-74.