By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE best-of-five Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup semifinal series between the Meralco Bolts and TNT KaTropa is down one last game with Game Five today at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Set for 7 p.m., the Bolts and KaTropa make one last go at a finals berth that would have them face off with early qualifiers Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in the championship series.
Meralco forced the rubber match after taking Game Four, 95-83, on Saturday, boosted by the play of import Allen Durham and guard Baser Amer.
Mr. Durham was once again in his steady form with Mr. Amer raising his game in the fourth period to tow their team to the series-levelling win and keep their finals hope in the season-ending PBA tournament alive.
The Bolts import led the way for his team with 36 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while Mr. Amer had 12 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, to go along with seven assists in the victory.
TNT had a strong start to the contest, taking the opening quarter, 24-18.
But Meralco picked it up in the second frame, outscoring TNT, 33-21, to seize a 51-45 advantage at the break.
In the second half, the team continued to battle it out but the Bolts just had more to give in the end to outlast the KaTropa to set up the do-or-die clash.
Chris Newsome had 10 points and nine boards for Meralco with Raymond Almazan and Allein Maliksi adding eight points apiece.
For TNT it was import KJ McDaniels who showed the way with 26 points, followed by Troy Rosario with 15, and Jayson Castro, Ray Parks, Jr. and Roger Pogoy adding 14, 11 and 11 points, respectively.
“I’m proud of the way the players responded tonight under pressure. We were in a do-or-die situation where if we lost, we are going home,” said Meralco coach Norman Black after their Game Four victory, adding that their defense also made a difference in the contest.
The Bolts are trying to make it to a third Governors’ Cup finals appearance in the last four years while the KaTropa are seeking back-to-back trips to the PBA finals this season.