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Meralco survives Alaska's 3rd quarter push, clinches 1st semis seat

Allen Durham powered the Bolts back to the semifinals. PBA Media Group
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Meralco pulled away from Alaska late into their PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinal game and booked a seat in the semifinals with a 94-84 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

The Bolts, who entered the quarterfinals with a twice-to-beat advantage for being the second seed, preserved a hot start against the seventh seeded Aces after the latter threatened to come back in the third quarter.

Looking not to utilize its playoff bonus and quickly eliminate Alaska, Meralco quickly went to a blazing start, scoring the game's first 13 points. Meralco eventually led by as much as 22 points, 49-27, late in the second quarter.

However, with a 6-0 run to end the second frame as a stepping stone, the Aces came alive in the third, trimming the Bolts' lead down to just three, 61-58, with 3:21 to go in the said period.

Meralco eventually restored order at the end of the third quarter and rebuilt a 10-point cushion, 73-63, entering the fourth.

Alaska still tried another comeback attempt, trimming the gap to only four points, 79-75, with 6:48 remaining in the game.

But the Bolts bounced back and pulled away for good with a game deciding 6-0 run that reopened an 11-point lead, 88-77, that was deemed insurmountable for the Aces to overcome with 2:42 left.

Allen Durham came close to a triple-double with 28 points, 16 rebounds, and eight assists with two blocks for Meralco, which will await the winner of the TNT-Magnolia series in the semifinals, which will take place right after the Southeast Asian Games.

Allein Maliksi added 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal in what would be his best game with Meralco.

Jvee Casio put up 20 points, one rebound, and three assists for Alaska, which broke into the quarterfinals despite a 0-5 start.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno