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Harris dominates in clutch as Alaska scores back to back vs Meralco to move on cusp of Finals entry

Mike Harris came close to a 40-point triple-double as the Aces can oust the Bolts on Saturday. PBA Media Group

By Patrick Sutare

Mike Harris took over late and came up with huge baskets down the stretch to lift Alaska to an escape win over Meralco, 104-102, Thursday night at the Cuneta Astrodome, putting the Aces on verge of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals trip.

Highlighted by an offensive juggernaut from both teams, Harris eclipsed his counterpart Allen Durham, as both took the spotlight in the twilight zone with the former getting the edge.

After three quarters of momentum shifts and lead changes, the imports stepped up and went mano-a-mano came winning time.

But with breaks favoring the Aces, Harris instantly turned into a hero for his team which has now won back to back against the gritty Bolts.

The conference stats leading import exploded for 31 points with 14 coming in the deciding period, along with 24 boards and seven assists in a monstrous complete effort.

Simon Enciso, who also provided a spark late in the game, followed suit with 17 markers, 11 in the fourth, and five assists in 40 minutes of play.

Chris Banchero scored 17 as well while Noy Baclao added 11.

The seventh seed Bolts actually got the head start in the final frame after some topsy-turvy exchanges in the early quarters where they trailed by just one after three, 75-74.

A triple from Garvo Lanete followed by a three-point play in transition by Chris Newsome broke the deadlock at 77 and gave the team a six-point breathing room.

But a personal six-point blast from Enciso gave the Aces back the lead, 92-89, with three minutes to go.

Durham then scored on a power move plus one to tie the game anew at 92 before Enciso and Reynel Hugnatan traded booming triples to keep the game knotted with 1:38 left to play.

The import clash then continued to ensue.

Harris scored inside off a timeout before Hugnatan buried another triple, 98-97 for the Bolts.

Harris then bullied his way through traffic and punched in a three-point play with 50.8 seconds left as Alaska regained control, 100-98.

Durham tied the game yet again as both teams stared at their respective century marks with 32.6 seconds to go.

Harris forced another one through off a botched play and gave the Aces a three-point cushion, 103-100, with 16.1 seconds to play.

Durham put in a quick two with 11 seconds remaining, 103-102.

Harris then split his freebies next before the Aces pulled off a huge defensive stop to seal the game.

Durham top-scored the game with 37 points. He also added 13 rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

Hugnatan tallied 19 points with four triples, five caroms and five dimes in a losing effort. Newsome and Baser Amer chipped in 18 and 11, respectively.

The Aces will go for the series clincher on Saturday still at the said venue.

The scores:

Alaska 104 - Harris 31, Enciso 17, Banchero 17, Baclao 11, Manuel 8, Casio 7, Thoss 6, Cruz 4, Racal 3, Exciminiano 0, Potts 0.

Meralco 102 - Durham 37, Hugnatan 19, Newsome 18, Amer 11, Caram 4, Faundo 4, Salva 3, Dillinger 3, Lanete 3, Canaleta 0, Tolomia 0.

Quarters: 25-22, 47-53, 75-74, 104-102.

Follow him on Twitter: @patricksutare