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Meralco spoils SMB's last hurrah to enter PBA QF's

Allein Maliksi had an efficient scoring game for the Bolts. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Meralco denied San Miguel a solid end to its campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations after scoring an 89-86 win on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The win officially sent the Bolts to the quarterfinals even as they solidified their bid to finish within the Top 6 in the team standings, keeping them out of the twice-to-beat disadvantage in the next round.

Meralco banked on back-to-back triples from Allein Maliksi and Aaron Black to take an 88-83 lead with 50 seconds left.

CJ Perez kept SMB in the game after scoring a three of his own to cut the lead to two, 88-86, with 39 seconds remaining.

The Bolts even left the door open for the Beermen to force overtime when Maliksi could only make a split from the line, but Simon Enciso missed a potential game-tying trey as time ran out.

Maliksi finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, and two steals for Meralco, which moved up to 6-4 in the standings.

Chris Newsome added 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, and one steal.

June Mar Fajardo put up 21 markers, 12 boards, three dimes, and one block for SMB, which despite falling to 9-2 will still enter the quarterfinals as the top seed with a twice-to-beat advantage.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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