By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE Meralco Bolts continued to roll in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup, winning their seventh straight game with a 97-92 victory over the Alaska Aces in Game One of their best-of-five semifinal series on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Made their way to the playoffs via the backdoor and bucked a twice-to-win handicap in the quarterfinals, the Bolts sustained their steady solid form of late to draw first blood over the Aces in their semis series.
Import Allen Durham got things going for Meralco early in the game, leading his team to a 25-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Bolts continued to hold sway in the second period, maintaining a comfortable distance of 13 points, 36-23, by the 5:04 mark of the frame.
Mike Harris tried to rally the Aces back but Meralco would keep them at bay with the latter remaining on top, 47-34, by the halftime break.
In the third quarter, the Aces came out with more spring in their game, making inroads in cutting down the Bolts’ lead to just five, 47-42, with just two minutes lapsing in the period.
Mr. Durham though would help Meralco stop the bleeding after, towing the team in re-establishing a double-digit lead, 57-47, midway into the frame.
Vic Manuel then led another uprising by Alaska as they cut their deficit to just seven points, 57-50, after two minutes.
But much like what they have done for much of the time, Meralco responded with a flurry to cut any momentum built by its opponent, taking a 72-56 cushion to the fourth period.
With the outcome of the match still open, the two teams slugged it out to begin the final quarter.
They fought to an 82-76 count, with the Bolts still on top, with four minutes left in the contest.
A triple by Chris Newsome with 3:42 to go gave Meralco more breathing space, 85-76.
Then Baser Amer added a deuce off the break a minute later to make it an 11-point lead, 87-76, for Meralco.
The Aces tried hard to rally back but no comeback would be consummated as the Bolts held on for the win.
Mr. Durham led the Bolts with 32 points, 14 rebounds and six assists with Mr. Newsome finishing with 16 points, four assists and four steals.
Mr. Amer added 14 points for Meralco.
Mr. Harris, meanwhile, had 37 points and 18 rebounds for the Aces with Chris Banchero and Mr. Manuel adding 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Game Two of the series is on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.