Meralco survives TNT in OT, forces quarters rubber match
MANILA, Philippines – Rising guard Baser Amer drained a huge 3-pointer with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter to give the Meralco Bolts an 11-point lead.
That commenced a scoreless stretch that lasted over 7 minutes and resulted in overtime. Until Amer himself broke the dry spell at the 2:49 mark of the extra session, putting Meralco on top by a point.
Meralco leaned on Amer's game-high 32 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists to eke out a 103-100 victory over TNT KaTropa in game 2 of the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, June 7 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts clung for dear life from midway in the fourth up until the final buzzer in overtime to force a do-or-die game 3 on Friday, June 9 for the right to face Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the best-of-5 semifinals.
Meralco is the only team to extend a series in the quarterfinals, with the 3 teams already through to the final four.
Both teams relied mostly on their locals for this game, with TNT's Josh Smith still recovering from a bum stomach for an 18-point, 18 rebound, and 3-block game.
Meralco's Alex Stepheson, on the other hand, weathered foul trouble and left the game with still 1:54 remaining in the fourth. He had just 7 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks after coach Norman Black called him out for his lack of energy in game 1.
Cliff Hodge sacrificed his body multiple times in charging for 50-50 balls and rebounds. He willed his team to victory and stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and 4 blocks.
Chris Newsome put up 12 markers, 5 boards, and 5 assists, while Jared Dillinger likewise had 12 points but registered 4 rebounds and 6 assists.
Kelly Nabong was critical off the bench with 15 points, missing only one of his 6 field goal attempts, and pulling down 6 boards.
Nabong scored Meralco's last 3 points from the free throw line, just enough cushion to hold off TNT's last-gasp attempts at sweeping the best-of-3 series.
Kelly Williams came up with 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench, including a highlight alley-oop jam in the extra session, while RR Garcia provided some much-needed offense late in the game to finish with 14 points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting plus 5 assists.
Jayson Castro and Anthony Semerad added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Meralco (103): Amer 32, Hodge 15, Nabong 15, Newsome 12, Dillinger 12, Stepheson 7, Hugnatan 7, Uyloan 3, Yeo 0.
TNT (100): Smith 18, Williams 16, Garcia 14, Castro 12, Semerad 10, Pogoy 9, Rosario 7, Reyes 5, Rosales 5, Tautuaa 4.
Quarter scores: 32-13, 49-44, 79-73, 92-92, 103-100.