PBA: Aaron Black, Meralco rally past San Miguel to force Game 7
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco refused to say goodbye to its PBA Philippine Cup campaign on Sunday and engineered an unlikely comeback in the final four minutes to stun San Miguel Beer, 96-92, and force a deciding Game 7 in their semifinal series at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aaron Black scored the last 11 points as the Bolts took victory away from the Beermen, who appeared to have the series in the bag when they led 90-80 with over four minutes left in the game.
Instead, Meralco arranged a rubber match on Wednesday for a spot in the finals against either defending champion TNT or Magnolia.
“We felt at halftime that we have a chance to win the game, and we have to keep on playing and playing,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, whose team also trailed by 16 in the second and 11 at halftime.
“We always talked about the fact it may be the last second that we win or the last 30 seconds or last minute, we just didn’t want to get distracted and we just want to stay focused because we know that this is a do-or-die game,” he added.
Black, who struggled in Game 5, finished with 17 points, including the go-ahead basket plus a bonus free throw off a CJ Perez foul, time down to 31.5 seconds remaining, giving Meralco the lead at 93-90.
The Bolts nearly saw their comeback go to waste when Perez intercepted an Allein Maliksi pass and got fouled in the process while attempting a corner three, 9.5 remaining.
But Perez could only make two of three from the line, missing the second attempt, to cut SMB’s deficit to 93-92. Black split two charities, then Bong Quinto intercepted Chris Ross’ baseball pass off the inbound, and Black sealed the deal with two foul shots with 5.1 left.
MERALCO 96 — Newsome 19, Black 17, Hodge 17, Banchero 13, Almazan 11, Maliksi 7, Pascual 6, Quinto 6, Hugnatan 0, Pasaol 0, Jose 0.
SAN MIGUEL 92 — Fajardo 23, Manuel 16, Lassiter 14, Perez 13, Tautuaa 8, Cruz 8, Enciso 8, Brondial 2, Ross 0, Herndon 0.
Quarters: 33-22, 56-45, 74-71, 96-92.
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