On Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the PBA Governors’ Cup, McDaniels and MERALCO lost an 18-point lead but still managed to secure a thrilling 132-129 overtime victory against Converge.
Allein Maliksi’s late-game heroics and flagrant foul seal Meralco Bolts’ win over Converge FiberXers
Allein Maliksi made his mark on the game by booming in a dagger of a triple that gave the Bolts a 130-128 lead going into the final 34 seconds before he was called for a flagrant foul.
As Converge desperately tried to run down the clock after an Alec Stockton miss, Maliksi grabbed Barkley Ebona’s neck in response to a hard foul, earning an F2 and an automatic ejection.
Even though the FiberXers were rewarded with two charities and ball possession because of Maliksi’s act, Converge still had a chance to steal the game because Anjo Caram, fielded in for the first time all game, came in for Maliksi and calmly canned the charities to make it a four-point game.
In the end, Jeron Teng could only make a split, and Meralco’s sixth win in 10 games was sealed when KJ McDaniels tipped Jerrick Balanza’s triple try at the buzzer.
The Bolts are currently ranked fifth after overtaking their most recent foe; on Sunday, they will play the Phoenix Super LPG to see if they can still make a run at the top four and the twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it in the quarterfinals.
It’s a long shot, and we have to win our last game against Phoenix, but at least we have a shot,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
A balanced Meralco attack, led by McDaniels’ 33 points and 12 rebounds and Aaron Black’s new career-high 28 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, spoiled an explosive all-around performance by Converge import Jamaal Franklin.
Franklin scored 57 points, led by a 29-for-30 shooting performance from 3-point range, and added 14 boards and 11 assists for what is likely the first 50-point triple double by a player imported to the PBA.
Franklin, who had a 53-point game against NLEX in February, joined the exclusive club of players with two 50-point games in a conference, joining the likes of former NLEX import Al Thornton and San Miguel Beer counterpart Tyler Wilkerson.
Franklin’s efforts, which included propping Converge’s fightback from an early 26-44 deficit, went to waste when he was called for his sixth foul off a driving McDaniels with Converge barely ahead, 126-125, and still 2:22 left in the extension.
Despite McDaniels’s drive tying the game at 121, it was Franklin who missed a fallaway jumper at the buzzer to deny the FiberXers a victory.
Maverick Ahanmisi’s 24 points were wasted, as was two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso’s first game in eight years, in which he recorded one miss and an offensive rebound in the first 4:17 minutes of his comeback.
The game between Meralco and Converge was an intense one, with both teams fighting tooth and nail for the win. While Converge put up a valiant effort, it was Meralco who emerged victorious thanks to a balanced attack led by KJ McDaniels and Aaron Black. Despite the win, Meralco is still facing an uphill battle to secure a top-four spot and the twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it in the quarterfinals.
One standout player from the game was Converge’s import Jamaal Franklin, who scored an impressive 57 points and recorded a triple-double. However, his efforts were not enough to overcome Meralco’s team effort.
Overall, the game was a thrilling one that showcased the competitiveness and talent of the PBA. It will be interesting to see how both Meralco and Converge fare in their future games as they continue to battle for a spot in the playoffs. Additionally, the Philippine Cup Betting market is sure to be buzzing after this exciting match.
Meralco 132 – McDaniels 33, Black 28, Hodge 18, Almazan 16, Quinto 12, Maliksi 12, Newsome 11, Caram 2, Banchero 0, Jose 0.
Converge 129 – Franklin 57, Ahanmisi 24, Racal 14, Stockton 9, Tratter 7, Balanza 6, Tolomia 5, Arana 4, Teng 3, Ildefonso 0, Ebona 0.
Quarters: 30-22, 62-55, 83-92, 121-121, 132-129.