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PBA: Meralco ousts Mahindra

Meralco unleashed a big third quarter run to eliminate Mahindra, 105-82, yesterday in their quarterfinal showdown in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Antipolo City.

With import Allen Durham and rookie guard Chris Newsome unstoppable in offense, the Bolts used a 34-16 run in the third frame to turn a 50-45 halftime lead to 84-61 lead entering the final frame.

The win gave Meralco its second straight semifinal berth in team history since joining the pro league back in 2011.

Meralco lost to Alaska in the semifinals of the previous Commissioner’s Cup.

Durham, a contender for the Best Import award, finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds, while Newsome had 19 points.

Cliff Hodge and Jared Dillinger 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Meralco defeated Mahindra, 104-99, last Wednesday in a playoff for the No. 4 berth and twice-to-beat advantage.

“We really felt that this is an important game for us,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black. “If we lost tonight we’ll give them confidence.”

“We had a slow start, but in the second half we came out strong. The semifinals is not the end. All we need to win is the championship. The team has come a long way in the past two conferences, and locals have come around.”

Meanwhile, two-time Grand Slam champion coach Tim Cone of Barangay Ginebra thinks that San Miguel – and not TNT KaTropa – is the team to beat in this playoff stage.

TNT topped the elimination round with a 10-1 record and got the No. 1 seeding in the playoffs, but SMB – led by reigning back-to-back MVP June Mar Fajardo – is the defending champion.

“My apologies to Talk N’ Text,” said Cone following Ginebra’s thrilling 109-104 victory against Alaska that secured them a semifinal series against San Miguel starting tomorrow.

“They may have ended up as the No. 1 seed. I will say that right out front. For me, still the team to beat is San Miguel,” added Cone, owner of league record 18 titles, including two Grand Slams, 1996 with Alaska and 2014 with San Mig Super Coffee (now Star Hotshots).

TNT, armed with a twice-to-beat incentive, is playing No. 8 Phoenix Fuel at presstime, and will face the winner of the Meralco-Mahindra quarterfinals in the other semifinal bracket.

Ginebra blew a 26-point lead (74-48) in the third period when Alaska – behind Calvin Abueva – rallied back and trimmed the deficit to just one point when import LeDontae Henton converted a three-pointer to make it 104-105 with 31 seconds to play.

Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who collected 29 points and 12 rebounds, answered with his own booming three-point shot with 11 seconds left that gave the Kings a 108-104 lead.

MERALCO 105 – Durham 24, Newsome 19, Hodge 14, Dillinger 12, Amer 7, Alapag 6, Faundo 6, Hugnatan 6, Nabong 5, Caram 2, Chua 2, Guevarra 2, Uyloan 0, Al-Hussaini 0, Buenafe 0.

MAHINDRA 82 – White 20, Digregorio 14, Guinto 8, Agovida 7, Paniamogan 7, Taha 6, Canaleta 5, Jaime 5, Ballesteros 4, Ramos 3, Revilla 3, Bagatsing 0, Gallanza 0, Yee 0.

Quarterscores: 18-26, 50-45, 84-61, 105-82