The Meralco Bolts erased an 11-point deficit with just over five minutes remaining to stun the Star Hotshots, 72-66, and draw first blood in the best-of-five Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals on Sunday at Alonte Sports Arena in Laguna.
After being down 64-53 at the 5:26 mark of the fourth frame, the Bolts launched a 19-2 run to end Game One and turn the tables on the Hotshots who still lost despite leading by as many as 17 points.
Import Allen Durham registered a monster statline of 23 points, 23 rebounds and four assists to lead Meralco. Jared Dillinger finished with 15 points, eight of which came in the deciding quarter.
The Bolts trailed big in the early going of the game, 20-3, after failing to contain the Hotshots and struggling in the offensive end.
Meralco only shot two-for-18 in the opening quarter.
But the Bolts clawed their way back in the second quarter as they finally found their shooting touch. They trimmed their deficit to four points, 36-32, at the half.
Meralco finally took its first taste of the lead, 43-41, after a 6-0 run in the third frame.
But the Hotshots countered with a 14-0 bomb to regain control. Star smelled the victory after Mark Barroca buried a triple to give his team a 64-53 lead with 5:26 remaining.
The Bolts didn’t give up, forcing two consecutive shot clock violations on Star. Dillinger and Ranidel De Ocampo also hit huge jumpers to ignite Meralco, with their back-to-back triples tying the game at 66-all with 1:46 left.
Dillinger’s layup gave Meralco the lead with 1:03 left. Paul Lee then turned the ball over on the other end, paving the way for a clutch Durham jumper with 33 seconds left that capped off the Bolts’ furious late-game run.
Jio Jalalon led Star with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. But the Hotshots badly missed the offensive output of Kristofer Acox who only came up with seven points and 16 rebounds.
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.