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Meralco outlasts Meralco in 3OT, stays alive

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ONE KYLE Pascual of Meralco tries to stop Johnathan Williams of Phoenix Super LPG during their quarterfinal match in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. The Bolts won, 116-107.

Meralco is not yet ready to quit — and it needed three overtimes to prove its point.

Chris Newsome served as the hero while the rest of the Bolts found the resolve to buck the absence of leader Cliff Hodge to outlast Phoenix Super LPG in triple overtime, 116-107, in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup last night at the Philsports Arena.

Newsome sent the game to an extra period with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the right flank before the rest of the Bolts refused to surrender in the second and third overtimes to eke out the victory that sent the series to a sudden-death encounter.

The game was only the 14th triple-overtime encounter in PBA history with the last happening in a knockout duel between NorthPort and NLEX in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Governors’ Cup.

“It’s just one game. Whatever we did, Phoenix is a resilient team. They have young guys who can be physical,” Meralco coach Luigi Trillo said, heaving a sigh of relief following the marathon encounter.

“We had six guys in double figures. For us, whatever it takes. We’ve been in this situation before. We have to keep that momentum going. We have a lot of respect to Phoenix. You cannot rest against a team like them.”

Hodge, the defensive ace who helped the Bolts crawl back from a 15-pont deficit, screamed in frustration after suffering a badly-sprained ankle in the final 2:17 of the first overtime.

He had to be helped out by teammates and didn’t return, paving the way for shock troopers in Aaron Black, Allein Maliksi and Bong Quinto to deliver timely baskets in the extra periods to finally extinguish the Fuel Masters after recovering from a 21-36 second-quarter deficit.

A basket by Quinto in the third overtime allowed the Bolts to finally put away the Fuel Masters with only 36.4 seconds left, 116-107, and extend the series to a decider on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Sometimes, you have to find ways. Cliff (Hodge) got injured so Bong, who was comfortable at the three spot, had to move to the four. Back in Letran, he plays one to four,” Trillo said, referring to the versatile Quinto.

Hodge led the scoring parade with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Quinto finished with 19 points, including the tough layup that sent the match to second overtime.

Import Shonn Miller fired 18 points and 20 rebounds before fouling out late in the game while Maliksi added 18 markers and seven boards for the fifth-seed Meralco.

Newsome was also impressive, finishing with 16 points laced with a clutch three-pointer that saved Meralco’s season from the brink of disaster.

Trillo said he couldn’t wait to return to action and complete their mission of making it to the best-of-five semifinals.

“I don’t want to wait two more days,” he said.

“We’re excited. You want to play in these types of games and if we could get it now, play tomorrow, let’s play it.”

Action resumes on Friday as four other teams start their respective quarterfinal tussles at  the Philsports Arena.

San Miguel Beer battles Rain or Shine in the first game at 4 p.m. while Barangay Ginebra squares off with NorthPort in the other playoffs pairing at 8 p.m.


The Scores:

MERALCO (116) — Hodge 20, Quinto 19, Black 18, Maliksi 18, Miller 18, Newsome 16, Banchero 5, Almazan 2.

PHOENIX (107) — Williams 24, Perkins 20, Tio 20, Tufin 16, Jazul 13, Alejandro 6, Mocon 6, Manganti 2.

QUARTERS: 13-21, 39-47, 53-62, 84-84, 95-95 (OT), 103-103 (2OT), 116-107 (3OT).

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