Meralco capitalized on a strong second half to blast Mahindra, 104-99, on Wednesday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors Cup at the Araneta Coliseum. The win allowed the Bolts to clinch the No 4 spot in the quarterfinals as well as a twice-to-beat advantage.
Jared Dillinger notched 22 points in the second half including four crucial three-pointers, while import Allen Durham tallied 11 of his 34 points in the fourth period on top of seven rebounds and three steals.
“Just trying out to get my bearing after halftime,” Dillinger told The Manila Times. “I adjusted myself at halftime and I let the offense flow in the second half. I’m happy that we survived tonight’s game. Mahindra had a good defensive plan.”
The Bolts will meet the Enforcers on Saturday, 5:15 p.m. at the start of the quarterfinals in Ynares, Antipolo City. Another win by Meralco will send them to the semifinals.
Meralco and Mahindra ended the elimination round with similar 6-5 win-loss records that forged a playoff for the No. 4 quarterfinals spot. The Enforcers slid to No. 5 after their defeat.
“I thought it was a story of two halves, first half we are a step slow, we came out flat and we didn’t have energy,” Meralco coach Norman Black told reporters after the game. “Next half, we came out with much more energy. Mahindra played well this conference.”
Freshman Amer Baser, a former San Beda Red Lions, posted 16 points plus four assists while Chris Newsome had 12 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks also for the Bolts.
Mahindra’s James White led his team with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting in the field, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Aldrech Ramos contributed 20 points while returning Niño Canaleta had 10 points.
Mahindra dominated the early part of the game leading by as much as 10 points before Meralco narrowed the gap, 29-26, after the first period. The Enforcers erected their biggest lead, 57-41, during the third period.
The Bolts outscored the Enforcers in the third period, 28-18, bringing the score to 69-71 entering the fourth frame. They dominated the Enforcers anew in the payoff period, 35-28.
Dillinger and Durham led Meralco’s second half uprising resulting in their victory.