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Bolts force KO match

Allen Duram blocks a shot by Jason Perkins (MB Photo | Rio Deluvio)

Allen Duram blocks a shot by Jason Perkins (MB Photo | Rio Deluvio)

by Jonas Terrado

Allen Durham and the Meralco Bolts lived to fight another day last night as they went on a telling second half surge to beat the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 90-74, that forced a rubber match in their PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Continuing to show flashes that earned him two Best Import awards, Durham scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half as the Bolts turned a 35-33 halftime deficit into a big lead to deny the fancied Fuel Masters in their first crack at a breakthrough semifinal appearance.

Durham got plenty of help from Chris Newsome with 16 points and Baser Amer contributing 14 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals, giving Meralco five straight wins after staring at the brink of elimination with a 1-5 record midway to the eliminations.

With the latest triumph, the Bolts moved themselves a win shy of advancing to the semis in a do-or-die clash slated 7 p.m. tomorrow night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“It’s just one game and we need two,” Meralco coach Norman Black said, anticipating a Phoenix fightback in the decider.

Meralco’s win also allowed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia an extended rest before their highly-anticipated best-of-five semifinal showdown.

Ginebra and Magnolia were forced to play the waiting game yesterday as the results of the doubleheader will determine whether they will return to the court tonight to start their semis series.

But the outcome of the first game assured the Manila Clasico foes two more days of preparation, with Game 1 of their series slated Saturday evening at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Durham accounted for 10 of the Bolts’ 33 points in the third while Amer and Newsome combined for 12 to take a 66-55 lead.

Phoenix tried to mount a comeback in the fourth, but Durham and the rest of the Bolts proved to be too much for the Fuel Masters to overcome.

MERALCO 90 – Durham 26, Newsome 16, Amer 14, Tolomia 9, Canaleta 9, Hugnatan 7, Salva 5, Dillinger 2, Faundo 2, Hodge 0, Ballesteros 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0.

PHOENIX 74 – Phelps 27, Abueva 18, Perkins 9, Wright 8, Chua 6, Intal 4, Jazul 2, Revilla 0, Kramer 0, Wilson 0, Mendoza 0.

Quarters: 15-17, 33-35, 66-55, 90-74.