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Phoenix clinches last PBA Comm's Cup semis seat after ripping Meralco

Jason Perkins delivered to lead Phoenix to the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Phoenix booked the last seat in the PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals after holding off Meralco, 88-84, in their knockout quarterfinal game on Sunday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

In the league's first stop at the MOA Arena this season, the Fuel Masters averted disaster after the Bolts made things interesting again.

Up 77-62 after the third quarter, Phoenix found itself on the verge of another fourth quarter collapse after Meralco opened the final frame on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to four, 77-73, with 8:20 left.

Both teams exchanged points midway through the fourth, but the Bolts eventually folded after Chris Newsome, who forced overtime in Game 1 with a buzzer-beating three, missed a triple that could have kept them in the game.

Jason Perkins iced the win for the Fuel Masters with two free throws with six seconds remaining.

Johnathan Williams led Phoenix, which will take on Magnolia in the best-of-five semifinals beginning Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, with 21 points, 16 rebounds, and two assists.

Williams, who missed two free throws that could have won it for them in the second overtime period of Game 1 and finished the game 9-for-19 from the charity stripe, had a relatively better night with an 8-of-12 clip from the 15-foot line.

Perkins added 19 points, 13 rebounds, and two assists.

Newsome, Cliff Hodge, and Allein Maliksi each finished with 15 points for Meralco in a game where Shonn Miller was held to only 12 points in almost 46 minutes of action, although he had 12 rebounds, six assists, one block, and four steals.

The Scores:

PHOENIX 88 – Williams 21, Perkins 19, Jazul 13, Tuffin 10, Mocon 9, Tio 6, Alejandro 4, Rivero 4, Garcia 2, Muyang 0, Manganti 0, Lalata 0, Daves 0, Verano 0, Camacho 0

MERALCO 84 – Newsome 15, Hodge 15, Maliksi 15, Miller 12, Quinto 11, Black 7, Banchero 7, Almazan 2, Rios 0, Pascual 0

QUARTERS: 30-22, 55-43, 77-62, 88-84

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