San Miguel was well on its way to booking a Finals ticket in the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup until disaster struck.
After CJ Perez gave the Beermen a comfortable 10-point lead, 90-80, with 4:23 ticks left on the game clock, Meralco unleashed a crippling 13-0 run capped by 2 freebies by Aaron Black to give the Bolts the upper hand, 93-90, with just 31 seconds remaining. Three more free throws by the son of Bolts head coach Norman Black against 2 from Perez sealed the deal and gave the MVP-owned franchise the much-needed win, 96-92, Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The victory tied the best-of-seven semifinal series at 3-3 with the winner-take-all Game 7 set on Sunday, August 17, 6:00pm at the same venue.
“I’m really proud of Aaron, not just ’cause of tonight but where he’s come from as a basketball player. I think he’s improved a lot over the past couple of years, and his career has been on the upward path,” said Black on his son during the post-game press conference.
“I’m happy he took over the game today. He actually told me, ‘Give me the ball and set pick-and-rolls and I’ll get it done,’ and he went out and did it, so I’m really happy he was able to back up what he was saying out there,” he added.
Chris Newsome led the charge for the Bolts with 19 points while Black, who was chosen as the best player of the game, finished with 17.
“San Miguel is a tough team. Credit to them. They had us in a hole the whole game, and I’m just thankful that we were able to come together as a team and come out with the win,” said the younger Black.
Cliff Hodge came through with a double-double of 17 points and 12 boards while Chris Banchero and Raymond Almazan chipped in 13 and 11 markers, respectively.
June Mar Fajardo paced the Beermen with 23 points and 13 boards while Vic Manuel, Marcio Lassiter and Perez added 16, 14 and 13 markers, respectively.
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.
Quarterscores: 33-22, 56-45, 74-71, 96-92.