The Meralco Bolts and Converge FiberXers went head-to-head in a thrilling match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum during the PBA Governors’ Cup. Despite Converge’s comeback, Meralco secured a 132-129 victory in overtime.
The game had its fair share of drama, including a crucial triple by Aaron Black, which gave the Bolts a 130-128 lead with just 34 seconds left in play. However, a hard foul on Barkley Ebona by Allein Maliksi led to his automatic ejection after grabbing Ebona’s neck.
Anjo Caram replaced Maliksi and sealed the victory by sinking the crucial free throws.
Meralco coach Norman Black acknowledged the importance of the win, particularly with the playoffs just around the corner. “We have to win our last game against Phoenix to even be in the running for it, but at least we still have a chance,” he said.
KJ McDaniels led the Bolts with 33 points and 12 rebounds, while Aaron Black scored a new career-high of 28 points, leading a balanced attack that spoiled an explosive all-around show by Converge import Jamaal Franklin.
Despite Franklin’s impressive performance, scoring 57 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and dishing out 11 assists, he was called for his sixth foul off a driving McDaniels with Converge barely ahead, putting his efforts to waste.
Although Converge coach Aldin Ayo praised his team’s resilience, saying, “It’s really about how we come back from this. I’m proud of the team for fighting back, but we need to finish strong in our last game,” the FiberXers need to win their last game against NLEX to have a chance at making it to the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, the Bolts will face Phoenix Super LPG to secure a spot in the top four and the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
The game also marked the return of two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso, who logged one miss and an offensive rebound in the first 4:17 minutes of his comeback after being sidelined for eight years.
In the end, Meralco came out on top, moving up to the fifth spot in the standings. With their playoff hopes still alive, the Bolts will look to continue their winning ways in their next game.