MANILA, Philippines - Top seed Meralco Bolts relied on a strong fourth quarter to prevent another upset from eighth seed Blackwater Elite, 104-96, in a do-or-die quarterfinals clash as they advance to the semifinals of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum Thursday, September 28.
Meralco trailed 79-84 in the first few minutes of fourth quarter before Baser Amer and Jared Dillinger combined for a 16-4 run, highlighted by 4 treys, to give the Bolts a 95-88 lead.
The Elite kept it interesting in the final minutes after Michael Digregorio buried two straight treys but Allen Durham, who was subbed out of the game with 7:05 remaining in the fourth after sustaining a right ankle sprain, provided the finishing touches for the Bolts with 6 straight points.
“My guys showed a lot of heart in this game tonight. We were really down at halftime and we really had to find direction for the team because it seemed like we were just floating dead in the water, we just couldn’t do anything right offensively and defensively,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
Blackwater looked like they would be the fourth eighth seed team to move forward to the semis after ending the first half with a 52-40 lead courtesy of Henry Walker’s 27 first half points.
But the Bolts, the best defensive team at the end of the eliminations, clamped down on Walker and kept him scoreless in the first 11 minutes of the third to trim their deficit to 3 points going into the final period, 73-77.
Amer, who scored just 9 points in the first half, poured in 22 of his 31 points in the final two quarters. He added 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the win.
Durham came just one assist short of tallying a triple-double after finishing with 18 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists with only one turnover.
Garvo Lanete made his presence felt with 17 points, knocking down back-to-back treys at the start of the fourth that gave Meralco the momentum to win.
Walker dropped a game-high 34 points on top of 16 boards but was not effective in the endgame as he scored just 7 points in the second half.
The Bolts will face the Star Hotshots in the semifinals.
Meralco (104): Amer 31, Durham 18, Lanete 17, Dillinger 15, De Ocampo 14, Newsome 7, Hodge 2, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Nabong 0, Tolomia 0
Blackwater (96): Walker 34, Erram 18, Digregorio 11, Maliksi 10, Canaleta 6, Marcelo 6, Belo 5, Sumang 4, Pinto 2,
Quarter scores: 22-22, 40-52, 73-77, 104-96. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.