PBA Semis: Meralco shocks Alaska, takes Game 1

MANILA, Philippines - The Meralco Bolts continued their winning streak in the semifinals as they topped Alaska Aces, 97-92 on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

It just took Meralco Bolts 2 days to prepare for their semis chapter after dismantling the 2nd-seeded Phoenix Fuel Masters in the quarters. In contrast, the Alaska Aces had an ample time to rest and strategize for their semis duel vs Meralco after upsetting the San Miguel Beermen.

double-double for the 2-time Best Import Allen Durham
Another double-double for the 2-time Best Import Allen Durham who led Meralco to a Game 1 semis showdown versus Alaska | Photo Credit: pba.ph

It seemed that a couple of days rest was more than enough for the Bolts to recover and they even didn’t show any sign of fatigue as they established an early lead over the Aces in the opening period.

With Allen Durham’s 11-point starting performance, the Bolts found themselves on top of the Aces 25-17 after the first 12 minutes of their inaugural semis match.

2nd quarter had been terrific as well for Meralco even though its starters took a breather and let the second unit played. Led by Bryan Faundo, the Bolts added more numbers to their lead that prompted Coach Alex Compton to call an immediate timeout.

Baser Amer who played very well against Phoenix two days ago, continued to sizzle hot in this game. On the other hand, Alaska import Mike Harris was single-handedly carrying his team on his shoulders just to match the intensity of Meralco on the floor.

Despite Harris’ monstrous efforts, the Aces were still far behind the Bolts as the locals remained tranquil and almost defense-less.

It was a complete Meralco domination after the 1st half. Durham’s 19 made it 47-34 and kept the Alaska Aces wandering on the hard court.

Chris Banchero who was absent during the quarters due to an ankle injury made his first playoff appearance for this conference, Banchero made an instant impact as Alaska altered the lead to 5 in the early stage of the 3rd period.

If Alaska’s supersub for this game was Chris Banchero, Meralco on the other hand had Reynel Hugnatan who brought back his team’s double-digit advantage through his smooth perimeter shooting.

Vic Manuel became Chris Banchero’s offensive partner in the third. However, Allen Durham was simply unstoppable and posted 31 markers after the 3rd period where Meralco was still at the helm, 71-56.

Not a good 4th quarter start for the Aces as their import, Mike Harris committed his 5th personal foul. Coach Compton however, gambled and retained Harris on the floor for few more minutes.

After several minutes of rest on the bench due to foul trouble, Mike Harris re-entered the court and started to show the Bolts how dangerous he is offensively and managed to pull down their margin to just 6.

It was winning time for both teams as the final 2 minutes of the game was announced by the coliseum barker.

At this point of time, Meralco had re-adjusted led by Chris Newsome with his timely treys that brought Bolts’ lead up to a dozen once again.

Mike Harris made some crucial baskets at dying moments of the game but he still fell short as the Meralco Bolts closed game number 1 with a convincing 97-92 victory.

Allen Durham led all scorers with 32 points plus 14 boards.

Game 2 will be on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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