by Jonas Terrado
Game Friday (Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. — Alaska vs Meralco
Meralco earned the right to face Alaska in a playoff for the eighth and final quarterfinals berth after stopping San Miguel Beer, 95-91, in the conclusion of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Delroy James displayed confidence down the stretch, scoring the Bolts’ last six points to secure a hard-earned victory that gave the campaign in the midseason conference another lifeline.
James’ last basket sealed the final score with 32.3 seconds left, waving off coach Norman Black’s instructions to call a timeout by driving past SMB import and fellow New Yorker Chris McCullough.
“I was trying to get Baser (Amer) back because he was our best foul shooter but he waved me off and I listened to him,” Black said of the play.
“He’s out there on the court so he has a better feel of what’s going on and he was able to produce that big basket down the stretch,” added Black.
He finished with 34 points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks, Chris Newsome scored 20 points, Raymond Almazan 15 and Bryan Faundo 10 for Meralco, which joined Alaska and Phoenix Pulse in a three-way tie at 4-7 slates.
Alaska and Meralco earned the two spots in the one-game playoff on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena due to superior quotients, eliminating Phoenix in the process.
“We got new life,” Black said.
McCullough and June Mar Fajardo scored 27 points apiece but the Beermen saw their three-game winning streak snapped and ended the elims at 5-6.
The loss assured Magnolia of the No. 5 seed and a best-of-three meeting with No. 4 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel San Miguel in the quarterfinals which begins Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Magnolia, with a 5-5 record, is playing TNT KaTropa as of posting time with the outcome determining San Miguel’s rank in the quarters.
A Magnolia win puts San Miguel at No. 6 and a best-of-three quarters date against third seed Blackwater.
But a TNT victory relegates SMB to a No. 7 and a twice-to-beat disadvantage opposite No. 2 NorthPort while the No. 6 seed will be given to Rain or Shine, which also went 5-6.
MERALCO 95 — James 34, Newsome 20, Almazan 15, Faundo 10, Amer 8, Jackson 3, Quinto 3, Hodge 2, Salva 0, De Ocampo 0.
SAN MIGUEL 91 — McCullough 27, Fajardo 27, Romeo 11, Standhardinger 9, Santos 6, Lassiter 3, Nabing 3, Pessumal 3, Ross 2, Rosser 0.
Quarters: 22-21; 42-42; 74-70; 95-91.