Game Today

Down Elite in knock­out match

Tempo - - Front Page - By JONAS TERRADO

(Smart Araneta Coli­seum) 7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Rain or Shine

The Mer­alco Bolts made sure they won’t join the du­bi­ous list of top-seeded teams that suf­fered a quar­ter­fi­nal exit and kept their cam­paign alive in the PBA Gover­nors’ Cup with a gritty per­for­mance in the sec­ond half.

Baser Amer siz­zled from long range, Garvo Lanete and Jared Dillinger fol­lowed his lead, Ranidel de Ocampo played stel­lar de­fense and im­port Allen Durham over­came a sprained an­kle and the Bolts foiled the Black­wa­ter Elite’s up­set bid, 10496, to reach the semi­fi­nals of the sea­son-end­ing con­fer­ence.

Amer fired 31 points on the eve of his 25th birth­day, lead­ing the charge for Mer­alco’s come­back from a 52-40 deficit at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum to ar­range a best-of-five semi­fi­nal se­ries with the well-rested Star Hot­shots.

Lanete and Dillinger knocked big threes, mostly in the fourth, De Ocampo lim­ited Elite im­port Henry Walker af­ter a fiery first half while Durham shrugged off a sprained right an­kle to score key bas­kets late in the fourth to seal the hard-fought vic­tory.

Mer­alco coach Nor­man Black hailed his team’s re­solve just when things seemed bleak when Walker fired three straight triples that gave Black­wa­ter a 48-37 lead in the sec­ond for the team’s first dou­ble-digit ad­van­tage.

Walker had 27 of his 34 in the first two quar­ters.

“My guys showed a lot of heart in this game,” said Black. “I mean, we were re­ally down at half­time, and we re­ally had to find di­rec­tion for the team, be­cause it seemed that we were float­ing dead in the wa­ter, we couldn’t do right of­fen­sively or de­fen­sively, and we were hav­ing a hard time de­fend­ing Walker.

“Tried to stay as calm as pos­si­ble, if you can do that at half­time of a game we’re get­ting beaten at, we just tried to make some ad­just­ments, es­pe­cially on the de­fen­sive end,” added Black, who cred­ited Ocampo’s de­fense on Walker, who missed five of six from rain­bow coun­try in the sec­ond half.

Durham had 18 points, 20 re­bounds and nine as­sists, Lanete and Dillinger hit five threes apiece for 17 and 15 points, re­spec­tively, and De Ocampo pro­duced 14 points and eight re­bounds for the Bolts, who are hop­ing to carry the mo­men­tum into the semis se­ries against the Hot­shots.

Game 1 starts on Sun­day at the Alonte Sports Arena in Bi­nan, La­guna. The Hot­shots had two ex­tra days of rest af­ter fin­ish­ing off the NLEX Road War­riors Tues­day.

Mer­alco is look­ing to Durham’s an­kle to im­prove as quick as pos­si­ble af­ter step­ping on the foot of Poy Er­ram in the fourth. Durham re­turned af­ter a quick treat­ment and scored backto-back three-point op­por­tu­ni­ties that were never com­pleted, giv­ing the Bolts a 99-91 lead, 3:52 left.

His ninth as­sist re­sulted in a Dillinger that put the Bolts in com­fort zone en­ter­ing the fi­nal minute, 10494.

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