BLACKWATER turned to Allein Maliksi for the big play and watched Meralco fumble in the last 9.5 seconds to pull off a 92-91 win that moved the Elite a win away from the semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Maliksi received an assist from Henry Walker and from the 15-foot line, he turned around and made a quick jumper, hitting its target and putting the Elite on top, 92-91.
The Bolts still had 9.5 seconds to design a winning play, but unfortunately, their supposed play after the timeout went in disarray. They made three passes before Mike Tolomia went for the buzzer-beating attempt that missed.
Because the Elite finished number 8 after the elimination, they need to beat the top seeded Bolts twice in the quarterfinals.
The task is too daunting, yet the Elite got the half of the job done nevertheless.
Walker finished with 30 points to pace the Elite who also got 20 points from Mike Digregorio and 15 from Maliksi.
The Bolts still led at 89-86, with 1:10 left when Jared Dillinger was slapped with flagrant foul 1 during Blackwater’s play, paving the way for Roi Sumang’s three free throws as Blackwater moved within 88-89.
Sumang then stole the ball off Allen Durham and hazily advanced the ball, before he made a perfect assist that paved the way for Maliksi’s jumper, 90-89.
Meralco quickly grabbed the lead for the last time at 91-90 on Durham’s follow-up, before Maliksi delivered the winning basket.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone expressed some apprehension on the situation they ended up with after landing a spot in the top four.
“We make top 4 and our ‘reward’ is to play SMB. Not much of a reward,” said Cone, admitting his Gin Kings obviously have the toughest assignment in the quarterfinal round.
“Obviously we have the toughest assignment, but at least with the twice to beat advantage, we have a margin for error that SMB doesn’t have,” added Cone.
The Gin Kings, who finished third on 8-3 record, and number 6 Beermen collide in the 7 p.m. main tussle in the resumption of the quarterfinal round at the Mall or Asia Arena.
Blackwater (92) - Walker 30, Digregorio 20, Maliksi 15, Sumang 9, Erram 7, Sena 4, Marcelo 4, Canaleta 3, Belo 0, Pinto 0, Cruz 0.
Meralco (91) - Newsome 19, Durham 18, Hodge 18, Dillinger 12, Tolomia 11, Amer 8, Hugnatan 5, Lanete 0, Caram 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 24-17, 42-40, 63-62, 92-91.