Import Allen Durham and Jared Dillinger joined forces in the payoff period to power Meralco to a 108-103 victory over Phoenix Petroleum on Friday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup opener at the Araneta Coliseum.
Durham tallied 32 points plus 22 rebounds while Dillinger contributed 15 points.
“I’ am happy to be here as your first customer,” Meralco coach Norman Black told the media during the postgame news conference. “Good start for us today, very good start actually. [Mohamad] Jamshidi just arrived last night and we didn’t have a chance to practice with him.”
“We tried to utilize the Araneta driveway to teach him some of our plays. We still have a lot of things we want to improve on as a team. Durham is a thoroughbred he reminds me of Bobby Ray Parks, he is a solid player, he has a great attitude.”
Veteran Jimmy Alapag finished with 15 points via 4-of-5 shooting in the three-point zone plus six assists. Chris Newsome added 13 points; Cliff Hodge had 12, while Iranian Mohammad Jamshidi, the Bolts’ Asian import, contributed nine points.
After posting a slim 25-23 lead in the first quarter, the Bolts doubled their effort in the second period bringing the score to 54-41 at the halftime break behind the three-point shooting of Alapag and Durham’s prowess inside the shaded lane.
Phoenix recovered in the second quarter then outscored Meralco in third period 29-21 through the two triples of John Wilson.
But the Bolts kept their composure to regain the lead at the start of fourth period 75-70.
Phoenix was again revived in the fourth quarter to seize the edge 97-95 after Willy Wilson’s three-point play in the last five-minute mark.
But the Fuel Masters’ celebration was short-lived as Meralco pulled away to notch a slim win in the fourth period.
In other developments, the PBA employed women referees to officiate its games for the first time. Janine Nicandro, 23, one of the first two female referees of the league, made her debut officiating a game with male counterparts Jimmy Mariano, Sherwin Pineda and Nol Quilinguen.
“I was a little bit nervous because this is the first time I officiated a PBA game,” Nicandro of Laguna told reporters during the post game interview. “I’m really happy with the job. I expect the fans and mostly the teams will hate me.”
Commissioner Chito Narvasa of the PBA said the inclusion of women referees in the PBA is good for the league, “We believe in the ability of women and we want them to play a more active role in the league. I think having women referees in our games will be good for the league long term. Gone are the days when the game of basketball was confined to only men,” he said in a statement.
In the second game, Mahindra leaned on James White’s prolific scoring to beat the Star Hotshots 100-92 in overtime for their first win this season.
White finished with 22 points through 10-of-18 shooting in the field plus eight rebounds. Aldrech Ramos posted 17 points while Asian import Iman Zandi Mashaddy had 15 points.
The Hotshots’ win-loss record fell to 0-1.