Meralco keeps semis hopes alive

KJ McDaniels of Meralco muscles his way past Phoenix Super LPG defenders during their PBA Governors’ Cup game last night at the Philsports Arena. The Bolts prevailed, 92-86. | PHOTOGRAPH BY Rio Leonelle I. Deluvio FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE @tribunephl_rio

Meralco is not giving up its semifinal aspirations.

The Bolts worked double time on defense in the fourth period to turn a close game into 92-86 victory over Phoenix Super LPG in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup yesterday at the Philsports Arena.

Import KJ McDaniels anchored the Bolts’ tenacious defense as he blocked five shots while delivering 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out with less than two minutes left.

“That’s my job, to patrol the paint and give my team more opportunities to score,” McDaniels said.

Aaron Black had another steady game, chipping in 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals while Cliff Hodge was solid on both ends, contributing 12 points, nine rebounds and two steals.

Chris Banchero came off the bench and provided the spark for Meralco, producing 13 markers.

Down the stretch, it has been the defensive effort of the Bolts, which played a big factor as Chris Newsome rejected a shot by Phoenix import Du’vaughn Maxwell then came up with another steal in the last 46 seconds that led to Raymond Almazan’s breakaway slam to create separation from the rallying Fuel Masters, 92-84.

With the win, the Bolts solidified their chances of a top-four berth as they ended their win-loss record to 7-4 and will have to wait the outcome of the remaining games in the elimination round.

“Our focus was not to let this game go by and avoid playing the top teams while having a twice-to-win disadvantage,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, whose wards won four of their five games in the last 11 days.

“Now we just have to wait and see.”

Meralco’s victory also spoiled Phoenix’s outright quarterfinals entry, pending the outcome of the last game of NorthPort.

The Scores:
MERALCO (92) — McDaniels 19, Black 18, Banchero 13, Hodge 12, Quinto 9, Newsome 8, Almazan 7, Caram 3, Pasaol 3, Jose 0.
PHOENIX (86) — Maxwell 29, Serrano 20, Perkins 13, Tio 7, Jazul 6, Camacho 3, Muyang 2, Manganti 2, Mocon2, Garcia 2, Lalata 0, Alejandro 0.
QUARTERS: 23-22, 47-49, 73-68, 92-86.

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