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PBA: Meralco forces do-or-die vs Phoenix after 3OT classic

Cliff Hodge kept Meralco afloat before his teammates closed it out in three overtimes. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Meralco stayed alive in contention in the PBA Commissioner's Cup after taking down Phoenix, 116-107, in a triple overtime thriller to open the quarterfinal round on Wednesday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

The Bolts completed a comeback from 15 points down in regulation as the Fuel Masters lost steam in the third extension and failed on their first try to return to the semifinals.

Down 77-62 with seven and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, Meralco finished the regulation on a 22-7 run capped by a buzzer-beating triple from Chris Newsome to force the first overtime.

Phoenix opened the first extension with five straight points, but Meralco quickly recovered and even took the lead a 93-92 lead with 59 seconds left in the period.

Tyler Tio gave the Fuel Masters the lead again, 95-93 with a triple, but Aaron Black responded with a mid-range jumper off a jump ball situation to knot the count anew, 95-all, with 23 seconds left in OT 1.

Johnathan Williams had his first chance to close out the game for Phoenix, but Meralco's smothering defense forced him to two misses down low as a second overtime was called.

Williams had a golden opportunity to win it for the Fuel Masters at the free-throw line after Shonn Miller fouled him while going for a layup with 8.2 seconds left in the second overtime, but Williams missed two charities, although their defense forced Aaron Black to throw a tough right-handed teardrop that he missed badly.

However, the Bolts began the third overtime with a 10-0 run to take a 113-103 lead with 1:48 left.

RJ Jazul and Ken Tuffin kept Phoenix alive with back-to-back baskets, but Bong Quinto iced the game with a booming three with 37 seconds to go.

Cliff Hodge led Meralco, which canceled Phoenix's twice-to-beat advantage and forced a sudden-death game on Sunday, with 20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, and one steal before leaving the game with a right ankle sprain.

Quinto added 19 points, two rebounds, and four assists, while Newsome, Miller, and Allein Maliksi each chipped in 18 markers with Miller grabbing 20 rebounds too.

Williams, who only rested for 38 seconds, finished with 24 points, 24 rebounds, six rebounds, three blocks, and one steal to lead the Fuel Masters.

Tio and Jason Perkins each put up 20 markers.

The Scores:

MERALCO 116 – Hodge 20, Quinto 19, Miller 18, Black 18, Maliksi 16, Newsome 14, Banchero 5, Almazan 2, Pascual 0, Rios 0, Caram 0

PHOENIX 107 – Williams 24, Perkins 20, Tio 20, Tuffin 16, Jazul 13, Alejandro 6, Mocon 6, Manganti 2, Muyang 0, Soyud 0, Garcia 0, Rivero 0

QUARTERS: 13-21, 39-47, 53-62, 84-84, 95-95, 103-103, 116-107

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