The No. 7 seed Bolts unleashed a booming third-quarter surge to help them rout No. 2 seed Phoenix, 90-74, and survive in the Quarterfinals of the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City last night.
Reigning two-time Best Import Allen Durham once again unloaded a monster game, finishing with 26 points and 16 rebounds for a double-double to lead the way for Meralco.
The backcourt tandem of Chris Newsome and Baser Amer provided a lot of support, scoring 18 and 16 markers, respectively.
Meralco, who entered with a twice-to-win disadvantage, unleashed a critical 17-2 run midway in the third to get some needed separation and a double-digit lead in the contest, 60-45, after a lay-up from Durham at the 4:37 mark of the period.
That decisive stretch proved to be the difference for the Bolts as they were able to sustain their run to secure the victory.
Meralco carried a 66-55 lead into the payoff period and never looked back as Phoenix was unable to respond.
The Bolts and the Fuelmasters will meet again tomorrow in a deciding rubber match to see who moves forward to the semifinals.
The winner between them will face the victor in the series between No. 3 Alaska and No. 6 San Miguel, who are going at it as of this report, in the next round.
The Aces, with a twice-to-beat advantage, are trying to clinch a berth in the semis as they are working on toppling their nemesis in the Beermen.
Meralco outscored Phoenix, 33-20, in the vital third quarter.
The entire first half was actually a seesaw battle which saw Phoenix carrying a slim 35-33 edge.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, top seed Barangay Ginebra and No. 4 Magnolia, who both maximized their incentives, are both already through to the semifinals.
They face each other in an anticipated best-of-five affair in the next round.
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