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Jazul steps up late as Alaska subdues Meralco

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--R.J. Jazul scored important points down the stretch to help Alaska hold off Meralco, 88-86, in the nightcap of a rare Thursday PBA Philippine Cup doubleheader at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Jazul drained the go-ahead triple and made crucial free throws to help the Aces take down the Bolts for another share of the lead with the San Miguel Beermen.

Alaska built a ten-point lead, 73-63, with 5:51 remaining in the game, but Cliff Hodge led Meralco's fightback and helped the club tie the game, 81-all, with 56 seconds remaining.

Jazul, however, beat the shotclock buzzer with a booming triple to hand the Aces the advantage anew, 84-81, leaving 31 seconds on the clock.

Jared Dillinger scored on a quick shot to cut the lead down to one, 84-83, with 25 seconds to go.

Jazul made a split from the free throw line in the next play, giving the Bolts a chance to tie the game with 23 seconds left.

But Gary David missed the potential equalizer and Hodge turned the ball over after getting the offensive rebound.

In the ensuing possession, Chris Banchero made another split from the charity stripe, making the first and missing the second, but he got the offensive glass, and Jazul made two more from the line to stretch the lead to five, 88-83, with 6.6 seconds to go.

Dillinger kept the game interesting with a quick triple, but his teammates let the Aces run the clock in the end.

Jazul was one of six Alaska players in double figures with 11 points behind Banchero and Vic Manuel's 13 for Alaska. Manuel nearly had a double-double as he also grabbed nine caroms along with an assist, a block, and two steals.

Hodge's 25-point, 13-rebound, three-steal, and two-block performance went down the drain as Meralco drew closer to a possible early elimination.

Box Scores:

Alaska 88-Banchero 13, Manuel 13, Casio 12, Hontiveros 11, Jazul 11, Thoss 10, Baguio 9, Abueva 4, Menk 4, Baclao 1, Dela Cruz 0, Exciminiano 0.

Meralco 86-Hodge 25, Dillinger 15, Al-Hussaini 10, Buenafe 9, Alapag 8, David 4, Hugnatan 4, Nabong 4, Newsome 4, Ferriols 2, Amer 1, Faundo 0.

Quarterscores: 21-24, 42-37, 54-55, 88-86

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