Allein Maliksi hit a crucial, go-ahead three-pointer with 34 seconds left in overtime to power Meralco to a 132-129 victory over Converge last night in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Maliksi, who came off the bench, was properly squared off as import KJ McDaniels attracted the defense of Converge.
But moments after his endgame heroics, Maliksi figured in an ugly incident that happened in the last six seconds of the game when he put a stranglehold on Barkley Ebona, who resorted to a semi-clothesline tackle on Maliksi after an unproductive play earlier.
Maliksi, angered by the Converge player’s rough tactic, choked Ebona and then was called for a flagrantf foul penalty 2 resulting to his automatic ejection.
Anjo Caram, who checked in for the disqualified Maliksi, hit two pressure-packed free throws as a result of a flagrant foul penalty 1 slapped on Ebona.
Jeron Teng became the designated hitter from the infraction called on Maliksi, but the second generation cager could only split his charities and ball possession was retained by Converge, which badly needed to score on a trey to tie the game.
But Kevin Racal’s last-second attempt was well contested, allowing the Bots to escape with the win.
Converge lost its two top players in the crucial stretches of the match.
First, the FiberXers lost Maverick Ahanmisi, who picked up his sixth foul in a loose ball situation with still more than five minutes left in regulation.
Then, the FiberXers saw their import Jamaal Franklin being called for a blocking foul against K.J. McDaniels with still less than three minutes left in extra period.
But they continued to fight on, but just couldn’t find the right guy who would preside in the crucial offensive plays down the stretch.
The Bolts squandered an 18-point lead in the first half and even found themselves trailing by nine entering the fourth period, 92-83.
But Meralco was able to regain its wits with Raymond Almazan returning after battling foul trouble earlier on and Aaron Black presiding in the fourth, knocking down nine of his 28 points.
While Black was a steady presence all-game long and Maliksi firing that telling triple, Bolts coach Norman Black was raving about Caram.
“I have to give credit to Anjo Caram. He sat the bench the entire game, but came out ready hitting two crucial free throws,” Black said.
MERALCO 132 – McDaniels 33, Black 28, Hodge 18, Almazan 16, Quinto 12, Maliksi 12, Newsome 11, Caram 2, Banchero 0, Jose 0CONVERGE 129 – Franklin 57, Ahanmisi 24, Racal 14, Stockton 9, Tratter 7, Balanza 6, Tolomia 5, Arana 4, Teng 3, Ildefonso 0, Ebona 0
QUARTERS: 30-22, 62-55, 83-92, 121-121, 132-129