Allen Durham and Jimmy Alapag led Meralco to a comfortable 106-91 victory over sister team Talk ‘N Text on Thursday in Game 2 of the best-of-five semifinals of Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governor’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Durham posted 31 points on 11-of-16 shooting in the field plus 21 rebounds and two blocks while veteran playmaker Alapag notched 14 of his 16 points in the fourth period including a perfect 4-of-4 attempts beyond the arc plus four assists.
“First, we played a lot better tonight and we made adjustments in practice,” said Meralco coach Norman Black during the postgame interview. “We are putting a bigger lineup on the floor that helped us. Not sure why Jayson didn’t come back in the second half.”
“We made some outside shots today something we didn’t do last time.”
Rookie Chris Newsome notched 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Cliff Hodge had 15 points while veteran Reynel Hugnatan contributed 12 points and five assists also for the Bolts.
Jared Dillinger, possibly hampered by a hamstring injury, scored only eight points, “I’m not sure to what happened to JD during the game,” said Black.
Jayson Castro scored 24 points for Talk ‘N Text but noticeably slowed down in the fourth period. Mychal Lemar Ammons posted 15 points and seven rebounds while his fellow import Michael Madanly was limited to only two points.
Meralco established a seven-point lead in the first period then stretched it to 29-15, at the start of second quarter. Newsome, Hugnatan, Dillinger and Hodge joined forces in the first period for a combined 22 points.
The Bolts’ 16 rebounds against eight of the Tropang Texters were crucial to Meralco’s dominance of that period.
Durham, with an average of 30.8 points, 14.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in the last 13 games, wrecked Talk ‘N Text’s defense. He notched 15 points in the second period resulting in a 54-40 lead for the Bolts at halftime.
Castro was the only Talk ‘N Text player to score in double-digit at half-time with 16 points. The Tropang Texters shot 15-of-37 (41 percent) overall in the field compared to Talk ‘N Text’s 22-of-41 (54 percent).
Meralco’s offense stayed outstanding in the second half. Hodge scored 10 points in the third period as the Bolts registered their biggest lead, 76-52, late in the third quarter.
Meralco was comfortably leading, 80-60 at the end of third quarter.
Alapag hit four crucial three-pointers in the fourth frame that foiled all chances of recovery for Talk ‘N Text.
Meanwhile, defending champion San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra will collide in Game 3 of the best-of-5 semifinals at 7 p.m. today, also at the same venue.
The Beermen will rely anew on center June Mar Fajardo, playmaker Alex Cabagnot and import Elijah Millsap as they take on the Gin Kings.
Ginebra, on the other hand, will be leaning on import Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Solomon Mercado, Mark Caguioa and Japeth Aguilar. The Gin Kings won Game 1, 115-108, on Monday.
JOSEF T. RAMOS