Ranidel de Ocampo and Cliff Hodge buried the crucial shots in the dying seconds as Meralco outlasted a tough Star squad, 81-78 in overtime to complete a 3-game sweep to advance to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals for the second straight season.
- Grind-out-basketball: De Ocampo buried a long two, before Hodge added a three later to give Meralco an 81-75 lead with 15.5 seconds to play. Mark Barroca though responded on the other end with his own triple to cut the lead to three again with 11 seconds left. Newsome was then, forced to a jump ball with Barroca with Star center Rafi Reavis recovering the ball. With precious seconds chipping away, Barroca made the pass to Jio Jalalon, who was quickly covered by three Meralco defenders, forcing the Star rookie to make an airball three-point attempt as time expired.
- Pressure defense: Star managed to claw back from a third-quarter, 11-point deficit behind its choking backcourt defense that forced Meralco to 20 turnovers. The Hotshots converted the Bolts’ miscues to 18 points that set the stage for the exciting finish.
- Unfinished business: Meralco now has a chance to complete its unfinished business after losing to Ginebra in six games in the Finals of this same conference last year behind Justin Brownlee’s buzzer-beating triple.
- Another day in the office for AD: Allen Durham had his usual big stats line as he finished with 24 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 block. Hodge backed him up with 18, while De Ocampo added 13 and 7 rebounds. Jared Dillinger and Baser Amer each chipped in 10, while Newsome finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
- Import-like effort: Mark Barroca took the scoring cudgels in the absence of injured Paul Lee, churning out do-it-all numbers of 21 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals. Pingris added 16 points and 6 boards, while Jalalon added 12. Import Kris Acox was a big let-down, finishing with just 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting, while getting totally outplayed in the semifinal series by Durham.
- Quote of the game: “We knew they will come out fighting and come out with a lot of pressure to try to extend the series and that’s exactly what happened. But it was a hard fought victory.” – Meralco coach Norman Black
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