REIGNING best import Allen Durham stepped up big time in the second half to lift Meralco to a 104-101 come-from-behind win over San Miguel Beer on Sunday and grab the No. 1 seat in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Governors Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Durham notched 25 of his 35 points in the second half, including the crucial 14 points in the last period, while Jared Dillinger added 16 points to hand the Bolts the No. 1 spot and the twice-to-beat advantage heading to the playoff round with a league-leading 9-2 win-loss record.
From a 53-71 deficit in the third canto, the Bolts miraculously came back as they outscored the Beermen in the final quarter, 35-20, highlighted by Baser Amer’s game-tying trey, 98-all, with still 1:24 left in the game.
Durham, who also collared 13 rebounds, along with eight assists and two blocks, gave the Bolts their first taste of the lead, 100-98, down to the last 58 seconds before Chris Ross answered back with a triple to regain the cushion, 101-100, with still 40 ticks to go.
But Durham scored on a putback in the next play to provide Meralco a 102-101 lead with 27 ticks left and the Beermen failed to execute in the next play, allowing the Bolts to get the win. Durham calmly sank both free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining and pegged the final count.
Alex Cabagnot’s game-tying triple was way off the mark at the buzzer.
Chris Newsome and Amer finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively, also for the Bolts.
Meralco faces No. 8 Blackwater on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
San Miguel Beer ended the elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss record and fell to No. 6 spot. The Beermen will face No. 3 twice-to-beat holder Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
No. 2 twice-to-beat holder TNT (8-3) will meet No. 7 Rain or Shine also on Wednesday.
No. 4 twice-to-beat holder Star battles No. 5 Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) also on Tuesday.
MERALCO 104 – Durham 35, Dillinger 16, Newsome 14, Amer 13, Hodge 8, Tolomia 8, De Ocampo 6, Nabong 2, Hugnatan 2, Lanete 0.
SAN MIGUEL 101 – Fajardo 26, Lassiter 18, Watson 18, Cabagnot 16, Ross 10, Santos 6, Rosser 4, Espinas 3, Heruela 0.
Quarters: 19-32, 39-51, 69-81, 104-101.