Clutch triples by Allein Maliksi and Aaron Black cleared the path for a Meralco win over quarterfinal top seed San Miguel, 89-86, Sunday in the elimination round of the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Maliksi drained back-to-back threes to give the Bolts the upper hand before Black gave his team more breathing room with a trey of his own, 88-83, with 50 ticks left on the game clock.
The Beermen had a chance to send the game into an extra period after CJ Perez nailed a triple and Maliksi split his free throws but Simon Enciso flubbed the potential game-tying three.
“We have guys who we believe in and you’re looking at the quality of shots, the shots are good,” said Meralco assistant coach Luigi Trillo during the post-game presser.
“As long as we’re doing the right things on offense and the decision-making is good, it will fall freely. I’ve known Allein since the D-League and credit to guys setting him up,” he added.
Meralco played without its head coach Norman Black who’s still in the US due to the death of his mother while coaches Leo Austria and Jorge Gallent and players Jericho Cruz, Rodney Brondial and Robbie Herndon missed the match for San Miguel due to health protocols.
The Beermen fell to 9-2 but remained as the top seed while the Bolts improved to 6-4 and formalized their entry into the playoffs.
Maliksi paced the MVP-owned franchise with 18 points while Chris Newsome and Black added 16 and 15 markers, respectively.
June Mar Fajardo led the charge for SMB with a double-double of 21 points and 12 boards to go with 3 assists and a block in 42 minutes of action.
Perez backstopped the league’s one and only 6-time MVP with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals while Marcio Lassiter and Vic Manuel chipped in 12 markers apiece. Enciso added 11 while Mo Tautuaa scored 9.