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Phoenix denied anew from completing PBA Govs' Cup QF cast as Meralco gets last boost to Top 4 bid

KJ McDaniels fouled out late-game, but Meralco survived against Phoenix. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—Meralco completed its share in hopefully sealing a Top 4 finish in the PBA Governors' Cup eliminations after pipping Phoenix, 92-86, on Sunday night at the PhilSports Arena.

The Bolts survived the Fuel Masters' last dash especially after KJ McDaniels fouled out as they now begin a long wait if they will clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

Just when Meralco thought it had already pulled away after taking a 90-75 lead with 4:47 left, Phoenix went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead down to six, 90-84, with 52 seconds left.

Aaron Black succumbed to the Fuel Masters' pressure defense and lost the ball to Javee Mocon, but Chris Newsome took it back from Mocon and found Raymond Almazan wide open at the other side of the court for the eventual dagger dunk with 40 seconds left.

Tyler Tio somehow kept Phoenix in the game with a jumper with 25 seconds left even as Mocon intercepted Bong Quinto's inbound pass, but Du'Vaughn Maxwell missed a tough inside basket which sealed the team's fate.

McDaniels finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, four steals, and five blocks, while Black added 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals to lead Meralco, which finished its elimination round stint at 7-4.

The team will now have to watch how Ginebra, Converge, NLEX, San Miguel, and Magnolia will fare in their own fight to the Top 4.

The Gin Kings and the FiberXers are colliding as of posting.

Maxwell made 29 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three blocks, while Encho Serrano added 20 points, nine rebounds, and one assist for Phoenix, which failed in its last chance to clinch the eighth seed in the quarterfinals outright.

Finishing its own campaign in the preliminaries at 4-7, Phoenix must now hope that NorthPort loses to TNT on March 15 to formally book the quarterfinal seat as the opposite of it would mean both Phoenix and NorthPort will need to fight again on March 19 for the last ride to the Final 8.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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