|Tony Bishop was automatic from the free-throw line in Game 3. PBA Images|
MANILA--Meralco dodged a bullet late into Game 3 of its PBA Governors' Cup semifinal series against Magnolia and walked away victorious, 101-95, on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Bolts endured a late comeback by the Hotshots to preserve a stellar third-quarter performance that helped put them within a win from making a return to the finals.
Meralco played great defense on Magnolia in the first quarter, holding them to just 19 points after the first 12 minutes.
The Hotshots, however, responded with a 31-point second quarter blast to go up, 50-46, at halftime.
The Bolts recovered in the third quarter by scoring 30 points in the period to reclaim the lead, 76-72.
They even threatened to pull away in the fourth quarter after opening a 10-point lead, 95-85, with 4:33 remaining.
But after both teams went a little over two minutes scoreless, Magnolia went on a 7-0 run that cut the lead down to three, 95-92, with 56 seconds remaining.
Chris Newsome then spun past Rome Dela Rosa and scored a crucial layup that upped Meralco's lead back to five, 97-92, with 36 seconds to play.
Tony Bishop then stole the ball from Paul Lee and eventually made two more free throws off a Jio Jalalon foul to increase the lead to seven, 99-92, with 22 seconds to play.
Mike Harris converted a three-point play that kept the Hotshots in the game with 7.4 seconds left, but Bong Quinto iced the game for the Bolts with two charities with 4.8 seconds to go.
Bishop went a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line and finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and four steals for Meralco, which can close out its best-of-five encounter against Magnolia on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Chris Banchero added 23 points, four rebounds, and five assists.
Harris finished with 24 markers, 17 rebounds, one dime, and one block for Magnolia, which lost back-to-back games for the first time this conference.
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