MERALCO delivered in the clutch in a game of spurts to trip Phoenix, 108-103, handing the Fuel Masters’ new coach in Ariel Vanguardia a rude welcome in the opening game of the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Allen Durham made a good account of himself with a monster game, pouring in game-highs of 32 points and 22 rebounds on top of five assists to power the Bolts to victory.
The game was tied at 97-all heading into the final three minutes and a 4-0 run gave Meralco a vital leverage that it maximized in the twilight zone.
PChris Newsome’s jumper gave Meralco a 101-97 edge with 2:22, but Simon Enciso countered with a trey for Phoenix to close the gap, 101-100, with over two minutes left.
But the Bolts stood firm as they once again went on a decisive 4-0 run, capped of by a jumper from Durham with 40 seconds left to stretch their lead to 105-100.
The Fuel Masters were unable to answer anymore, allowing the Bolts to take the hard-fought game.
The win gave Meralco a nice 1-0 start, while Phoenix didn’t exactly have the beginning it wanted with new coach Vanguardia with a 0-1 card.
Durham got plenty of help as Jimmy Alapag made his first four triples and finished with 16 points and six assists, while Jared Dillinger came off the bench to fire 15 markers. Newsome added 13 and Cliff Hodge had 12 for Meralco.
Import Marcus Simmons led Phoenix with his double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds in the losing cause.
Meanwhile, four more teams make their conference debut today as a double-header featuring NLEX, Blackwater, Barangay Ginebra and GlobalPort is scheduled with the scene shifting to the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
At 3 p.m., NLEX and Blackwater tango, while crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra and GlobalPort follow with their own tussle at 5:15 p.m.
(Mall of Asia Arena,
3 p.m. – NLEX vs. Blackwater
5:15 p.m. – Barangay Ginebra vs. GlobalPort