Durham keeps Meralco alive in Governor’s Cup
ALLEN Durham made sure Meralco won’t go down without one big fight.
Allen Durham led a sustained second half attack by the Bolts which resulted in a 90-74 victory over Phoenix Wednesday and forced a rubber match in their PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals duel at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Durham scattered 18 of his team-high 26 points in the last two quarters of play and got plenty of help from the likes of Chris Newsome and Baser Amer as seventh-ranked Meralco neutralized the second seeded Phoenix’s twice-to-win advantage.
The Bolts now have an even shot when the deciding match is played out Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco coach Norman Black remains guardedly optimistic despite his team’s fifth straight win in all. “It’s just one game and we need two,” he pointed out.
“They fought very hard to get that twice-to-win advantage and there’s a reason why,” added Black. “We just have to go out, try to win one more game to make it to the semifinals. That’s going to be our focus tomorrow in practice, try to correct whatever errors we had today and try to come out better.”
The Bolts could take the good lessons from the way they started the third quarter, going on a 27-10 tear to raze a 33-35 deficit and erect a 60-45 spread.
The momentum gained from that surge spilled over into the fourth period as Durham’s three-point play gave the Bolts a safe 88-72 spread, only two minutes left.
For Phoenix, it’s back to the drawing board after making just 14 of 44 shots in the second half to Meralco’s 21-of-38 shooting.
Eugene Phelps had game-highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds, but made just 12 of 24 of his shots.
Calvin Abueva had his own double-double of 18 points and 12 boards, but fouled out with still 3:03 left and Meralco comfortably up 83-72.
“They’re also a defensive team, but we clamped down a little bit better in the second half and our shots started falling a little bit more,” said Black.
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