The Meralco Bolts did their part in making sure their hopes of making it into the playoffs are still alive after the two-time PBA Governors' Cup finalist defeated the San Miguel Beermen, 111-81, Saturday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Now they'll have to wait for the result of Sunday's game between Ginebra and TNT to find out if they'll qualify directly or if they'll have to go through a knockout match for the eight and final playoff spot.
The Bolts got the jump on the Beermen as they led 15-2 to start the ball game but it was a huge performance in the third quarter that separated them from the powerhouse squad.
After starting the second half of the match down by five points, 49-44, Meralco caught fire in the third led by two-time defending Best Import of the Conference Allen Durham. The bull-strong import punished the interior defense of the Beermen by scoring 18 of his 35 points in the period.
The Beermen also did not help themselves by committing seven turnovers in the third leading to 11 points for the Bolts. Meralco cruised their way to a win in the final period as SMB's defense looked lackluster as they were down by as much as 33 points.
"SMB is a great team so it's good for us to get a win against them," said Durham who also added 26 rebounds to his tally.
Reynel Hugnatan was named Durham's co-Best Player of the Game with 19 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
"My teammates wanted to give me a gift for my birthday. I thank them for helping us get the win," said Hugnatan who was celebrating his 40th birthday.
It was not the prettiest of conferences for the Bolts but the win, at the very least, gave them a shot at making it into the playoffs without having to rely on the results of the other games.
"If there's anything I could re-do this conference, it would be to tell Durham to be in better shape," said Meralco head coach Norman Black. "Second, it was a tough schedule for us, playing Fridays and Sundays back-to-back and then we had to leave to compete in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. But the good thing about that is Durham was in better shape when we came back from Thailand."
Meralco also got huge games from Chris Newsome and Baser Amer who registered double-doubles. Newsome had 14 points and 12 rebounds while Amer had 12 points and 10 dimes. The Bolts had a total of 38 assists in the contest while the Beermen only had nine.
Kevin Murphy led the Beermen with 32 points and 10 rebounds, while Christian Standhardinger picked up 18 rebounds but only scored six points.
Meralco 111 - Durham 35, Hugnatan 19, Newsome 14, Amer 12, Hodge 9, Canaleta 8, Salva 6, Faundo 2, Bono 0, Jamito 0, Tolomia 0.
San Miguel 81 - Murphy 32, Cabagnot 16, Santos 11, Lassiter 8, Standhardinger 6, Pessumal 5, Nabong 2, Fajardo 1, Ross 0, Rosser 0, Heruela 0, Vigil 0.
Quarters: 26-25, 44-49, 78-66, 111-81.
-- With the loss, SMB will finished at the sixth spot which means they will be facing Alaska in the quarterfinals. The Aces will be holding the twice-to-beat advantage.
-- Meralco can still finish at the seventh spot if TNT loses to Ginebra on Sunday. But if the Katropa win, the Bolts will play the knockout game against them on Tuesday.