Baser Amer scored 31 points, and Allen Durham flirted with a triple double as Meralco defeated Blackwater 104-96 at Araneta Coliseum on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the PBA Governors' Cup.
Top-seeded Meralco faced all sorts of adversity in the decider, but the Bolts weathered the early hot shooting by Henry Walker, erased a double-digit deficit, and bucked a late injury to Durham to arrange a best-of-5 series with Star in the next round.
After trailing by 12 points at halftime, Meralco chipped away at the deficit until Amer's layup tied the score at 84-all in the fourth, before back-to-back 3-pointers by Jared Dillinger and Amer put Meralco up for good.
“Tough game. Talagang nagtiyaga lang kami,” Amer said.
But there was a nervous moment for Meralco when Durham's right foot landed on JP Erram, forcing Durham to sit on the bench for a few minutes to shake the pain off. The team doctor ruled it a spring, according to TV broadcast.
With Walker misfiring and Meralco's local players outshining their Blackwater counterparts, the Bolts managed to hold on to the lead.
“When Baser and JD started hitting those 3s, it started to open things up,” Meralco coach Norman Black said.
“I think the most important thing is we had to play better defense on Walker.
“We were really gambling on the fact that he didn’t rest in the first half and we were hoping he might wear down in the second half.”
Durham registered 18 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assists, playing with a sprained foot in the game's homestretch.
Garvo Lanete added 17 points and 5 3-pointers off the bench, while Ranidel de Ocampo contributed 14 points and 8 rebounds. Both were scoreless in Game 1.
Walker, who played all 48 minutes, finished with 34 points, including 20 straight in the second quarter that put Blackwater on top 52-40.
Walker though failed to regain his shooting touch after the break.
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