By JONAS TERRADO
Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Ginebra vs TNT KaTropa
Game Tomorrow (Sta. Rosa, Laguna)
7 p.m. – Star vs Meralco
BINAN, Laguna – Meralco engineered another come-from-behind victory last night, this time erasing a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to stun Star, 72-66, and a 1-0 lead at the start of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Alonte Sports Arena here.
Jared Dillinger made the key baskets while he and the rest of the Bolts forced the Hotshots to commit six consecutive turnovers in the final 3:43 to escape with their third straight win after being down by double digits in a span of seven days.
Dillinger finished with 15 points, including two threes and a lefty layup off Rafi Reavis that put Meralco in front 68-66 with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Import Allen Durham, who had 23 points and 23 rebounds, scored a fadeaway shot with 33.2 seconds left after a miscue by Star’s Paul Lee on the previous possession to virtually seal Meralco’s rally from a 66-57 deficit.
The Bolts go for a 2-0 lead and gain a step closer from advancing to the finals of the season-ending conference with another win tomorrow night at the City of Sta. Rosa Sports Complex, about two kilometers from this city.
Coach Norman Black’s Bolts actually fell behind by a high of 12 in the fourth when the Hotshots’ PJ Simon scored back-to-back one handers for a 59-47 lead, less than 10 minutes remaining in the said period.
But Dillinger and Ranidel de Ocampo combined for three straight threes while forcing the Hotshots to commit back-to-back 24-second violations, tying the game at 66-all on Dillinger rainbow shot, 1:42 to go.
Star’s Mark Barroca shot an airball after a timeout, then Dillinger blew past Reavis for the go-ahead layup, and Meralco never looked back.
The Hotshots endured a long trip back to the metropolis after squandering a huge lead at the start, scoring the game’s first 11 points before taking a 20-3 lead.
But Meralco inched its way back to trail 36-32 at the half. The Bolts later took the driver seat on multiple occasions in the third, the last at 47-45 before allowing the Hotshots to score 14 in a row bridging that quarter and the fourth.
Rookie guard Jio Jalalon topscored for the Hotshots with 15 points along with six rebounds and three assists, with Barroca and Lee adding 11 points apiece.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT KaTropa begin their own semifinal series tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
MERALCO 72 – Durham 23, Dillinger 15, Amer 10, Newsome 7, De Ocampo 5, Hodge 5, Lanete 4, Hugnatan 3, Tolomia 0, Caram 0, Nabong 0.
STAR 66 – Jalalon 15, Lee 11, Barroca 11, Sangalang 9, Acox 7, Simon 6, Pingris 4, Brondial 2, Reavis 1, Melton 0, Ramos 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarters: 7-21; 32-36; 47-53; 72-66.