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Meralco stays alive in PBA PH Cup QF race, sends Phoenix to brink of ouster

Aaron Black had a solid game for Meralco in a crucial win against Phoenix. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

BINAN--Meralco snapped a two-game slide in the PBA Philippine Cup with an 82-76 grind-out win against Phoenix on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

In a showdown between teams in danger of missing the quarterfinals, the Bolts scored a much-needed win and also sent the Fuel Masters further down the drain.

Held to only 10 points in the second quarter as Phoenix built a 38-34 halftime lead, Meralco turned things around in the third quarter, outscoring their opponent, 26-15, to take a 60-53 advantage entering the fourth.

The Fuel Masters still had a chance to steal the game as they trailed by just three, 79-76, with 19 seconds left, but three straight free throws from Bong Quinto, his only points in the game, iced the win for the Bolts.

Aaron Black put up 18 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block for Meralco, which moved up to the eighth place at 4-5, a half-game ahead of NorthPort and Blackwater in the race for the last quarterfinals berth.

Chris Banchero added 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Ken Tuffin had 14 points, two rebounds, and one assist for Phoenix, which is now on the brink of elimination at 3-7, 1.5 games behind Meralco for the eighth spot.

The Fuel Masters could only hope that all the other teams chasing for the eighth seed would lose their remaining games and win their May 4 game against the Blackwater Bossing to have a shot at the wildcard.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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