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TNT survives late Meralco push for share of lead

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--TNT nearly squandered a late nine-point lead but still eked out a 98-95 win against sister club Meralco in their PBA Governors' Cup match-up at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

A relatively close game for most of the time, the KaTropa appeared to have pulled away for good from the Bolts after building a 98-89 cushion with 3:22 left in the game.

But the Bolts went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to just three with 53 seconds remaining. They could have inched closer if not for Allen Durham missing of his two free throw with the said time left.

However, they got a chance to draw nearer after Michael Madanly was called for an offensive foul with 38.2 seconds left.

TNT's defense forced Durham to a dribbling infraction with 32 seconds to go, giving the team a chance to stretch the lead.

But Cliff Hodge blocked Jayson Castro's triple and Jared Dillinger grabbed the loose ball and called time with four seconds left to map out the play for the equalizing triple.

Dillinger had a good look in the play but his three-point try rimmed out as the KaTropa escaped with the victory.

Castro finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and one block, while Madanly and fellow import Mario each chipped in 14 markers for TNT, which joined San Miguel and surprise co-leader Mahindra at the top of the standings at 2-0.

Hodge had 18 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal, while Jimmy Alapag played a vintage game with 11 points and 12 assists with three rebounds for Meralco, which failed to go 3-0 in the conference.

Box scores:

TNT 98-Castro 24, Little 14, Madanly 14, Rosales 13, De Ocampo 9, Tautuaa 8, R. Reyes 6, Carey 5, Fonacier 5

Meralco 95-Hodge 18, Dillinger 15, Durham 14, Alapag 11, Jamshidi 10, Newsome 9, Hugnatan 8, Nabong 8, Buenafe 2, Caram 0, Faundo 0

Quarterscores: 30-24, 50-52, 74-74, 98-95

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