by Jonas Terrado
Meralco survived NorthPort, 126-123, in a double overtime marathon to snap a three-game skid while giving new light to its quarterfinals bid in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Baser Amer hit eight of his 23 points in the second extra session to help the Bolts create separation from the Batang Pier and secure their third win in eight games this conference.
But Meralco almost squandered a big lead in the final seconds when Nico Salva made just one of two free throws, only to force Mo Tautuaa to lose the ball at midcourt, prompting coach Norman Black’s boys to celebrate.
“That was a hard-fought game between two teams that are fighting for their lives, especially us,” said Black, who is glad to see Meralco climb to eighth place with three games left.
Chris Newsome finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists in 51 minutes and was responsible for sending the contest to a first overtime when he converted off an alley-oop that made it 106-all.
Newsome’s tying shot came after Meralco looked dead in the water and trailing 106-100 in regulation. He capitalized on a foul given by rookie Robert Bolick and made two of three free throws before forcing Sean Anthony to a jump ball after missing the third.
Cliff Hodge made a basket to pull Meralco within two, 106-104, and Nico Salva chopped the ball from Anthony to set up Newsome’s layup off the inbound.
MERALCO 126 – Newsome 28, Amer 23, Hodge 23, Salva 16, De Ocampo 15, Jackson 11, Quinto 4, Hugnatan 4, Pinto 2, Caram 0, Faundo 0.
NORTHPORT 123 – Pringle 33, Anthony 31, Tautuaa 21, Grey 15, Bolick 5, Taha 4, Elorde 4, Guinto 4, Flores 2, Arana 2, Sollano 2, Gabayni 0, Lanete 0.
Quarters: 28-22, 49-46, 76-72, 106-106, 126-123.
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