Mer­alco, Aces start PBA se­ries

Tempo - - Front Page - By JONAS TER­RADO

Game To­day (Ynares Cen­ter, An­tipolo City) 6:30 p.m. – Alaska vs Mer­alco

Alaska is brac­ing for a tough chal­lenge from Mer­alco tonight when they be­gin their own be­stof-five semi­fi­nal se­ries in the PBA Gov­er­nors' Cup at the Ynares Cen­ter in An­tipolo City.

Though hav­ing made short work of play­off tor­men­tor San Miguel Beer­men in the quar­ter­fi­nals, the Aces don't see any ad­van­tage go­ing into the 6:30 p.m. match, es­pe­cially af­ter see­ing first hand how the Bolts came out of nowhere to claim the last semis berth.

Coach Alex Comp­ton and his staff were im­pressed with what they saw Fri­day when the Bolts com­pleted their stun­ning upset of the sec­ond-ranked Phoenix Fuel Mas­ters, 108-103, in over­time at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

Mer­alco over­came a 1-6 start in the tour­na­ment by win­ning six straight do-or-die matches, in­clud­ing the quar­ter­fi­nal en­coun­ters with Phoenix.

The Aces, how­ever, could be with­out of their key play­ers as Chris Banchero is game-time de­ci­sion af­ter hurt­ing his an­kle in Wed­nes­day's 96-85 win over San Miguel.

Mike Har­ris, the fron­trun­ner for the Best Im­port award, will hope to be in bet­ter shape af­ter deal­ing with cramps in the quar­ters. He will up against an equally-tal­ented re­in­force­ment in Mer­alco's Allen Durham.

Durham played su­perb in the knock­out game against Phoenix by scor­ing 32 points, help­ing Mer­alco com­plete its come­back from 16 down in the sec­ond.

He got help from Baser Amer, whose in­spir­ing per­for­mance aided by words of ad­vice from for­mer Mer­alco as­sis­tant Jimmy Ala­pag en­abled him to score 26 points in­clud­ing clutch bas­kets in the cru­cial stretch.

Bolts coach Nor­man Black is also bank­ing on Jared Dillinger to put up an­other gritty per­for­mance af­ter be­ing out of the elim­i­na­tions with an in­jured quad, with Cliff Hodge out af­ter hurt­ing his back in the quar­ters.

(Rio Delu­vio)

JOB WELL DONE: Mer­alco's Allen Durham erupts in sheer joy af­ter help­ing the Bolts beat the Fuel Mas­ters, 108-103, over­time in the rub­ber match of their quar­ter­fi­nal se­ries on Fri­day at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

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