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4:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs NLEX
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs Alaska
Meralco clinches twice-to-beat incentive.
Meralco maintained its mastery of Mahindra this conference as the Bolts clinched a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinal round with a 104-99 victory in their playoff in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco import Allen Durham recorded 34 points, while wingman Jared Dillinger came off the bench to contribute 22 points – all in the second half – as he converted 4-of-8 from three-point territory.
Down by six midway in the fourth quarter, 84-78, a three-point play by Dillinger sparked a 12-2 run that gave the Bolts a 90-86 advantage with 3:57 left in the game.
The last time Mahindra threatened was when Niño Canaleta made three free throws off a shooting foul by Chris Newsome, which trimmed the deficit to 101-99 with 17.9 seconds to play.
After veteran guard Jimmy Alapag split his free throws for 102-99, the Enforcer had a chance to tie the score in the next play. Newsome, however, came through with a big defensive stop when he blocked a three-point attempt by Canaleta.
Baser Amer, another rookie, collared the loose ball and was fouled by Mahindra import James White. Amer sank both foul shots for the final count, pushing the Bolts within one win of moving to the semifinals.
The win gave Meralco the No. 4 spot in the quarterfinals and twice-to-beat advantage, while Mahindra – which dropped its fourth straight game – fell to No. 5 in the crossover round.
Since the two teams will face-off in the quarterfinals on Saturday, the Bolts got a crucial win in their virtual best-of-three affair against the Enforcer, raising Meralco’s head-to-head record opposite the expansion Mahindra to 3-1 this conference.
“I thought it was a story of two halves – first half defensively we’re step slow, we came out flat. Fortunately for us, we came out with much more energy in the second half,” said Meralco mentor Norman Black.
“I hope we can get another win and move to the semifinals, but we expect a tougher (on Saturday).”