MERALCO kept its poise under tremendous pressure to subdue Magnolia Pambansang Manok, 101-95, and move within a win of booking a return trip to the PBA Governors’ Cup finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Import Tony Bishop joined hands with Chris Banchero, Chris Newsome, Bong Quinto and Allein Maliksi to power the Bolts to a hard-earned victory and 2-1 lead in the scheduled best-of-five semifinal series.
Bishop finished with a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Bolts, who need only to win in Game 4 on Wednesday to eliminate the Hotshots and advance to the finals.
Banchero added 23 points five assists and four rebounds, Newsome contributed 16 points and Quinto and Maliksi had 10 points apiece for Meralco, which staved off late rally by Magnolia to escape with the win.
“I’m happy we won, but I don’t think we played great tonight,” said Meralco coach Norman Black in an interview posted at the official PBA website.
“We’ll have to go back and look at the tape, see what we did good and see what we did bad,” added Black.
Mike Harris carried the fight for Magnolia with 24 points, followed by Mark Barroca with 15, Ian Sangalang with 14 and Jio Jalalon with 13.
In the second game, NLEX subdued Barangay Ginebra, 86-85, to narrow the deficit to 1-2.
Cameron Clark came through with 21 points and 17 rebounds and three other players also scored in double figures for the Bolts, who can equalize the series with another victory on Wednesday.
Clark himself sealed the victory with a crucial steal off LA Tenorio and a three-point play off a foul by Justin Brownlee with 7.3 seconds left.
“We earned the win, we earned the break,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
Kevin Alas finished with 15 points, four assists and two rebounds, Justin Chua added 13 points and five rebounds and Raul Soyud had 11 points and six rebounds.
Brownlee topscored with 27 points for Ginebra.
Meralco (101) –Bishop 27, Banchero 23, Newsome 16, Quinto 10, Maliksi 10, Almazan 6, Hodge 4, Baclao 3, Black 2, Belo 0, Caram 0.
Magnolia ( 95) –Harris 24, Barroca 15, Sangalang 14, Jalalon 13, Abueva 8, Wong 7, Dela Rosa 7, Lee 5, Reavis 2.
Quarterscores: 24-19, 46-50, 76-72, 101-95.
NLEX (86) – Clark 21, Alas 15, Chua 13, Soyud 11, Paniamogan 9, Rosales 7, Miranda 4, Trollano 4, Semerad 2, Nieto 0.
Ginebra (85) – Brownlee 27, Standhardinger 16, Thompson 13, Tenorio 10, Tolentino 9, Devance 6, Caperal 2, Chan 2, Pinto 0.
Quarterscores: 16-19, 36-44, 59-62, 86-85.