ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Meralco needed every bit of Allen Durham's near triple-double performance to escape Columbian, 109-106, in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup opener at the Ynares Center here on Friday, August 17.
Durham, the two-time reigning Best Import of the Conference, delivered 26 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assists as the Bolts bucked off a lethargic first half that saw them trail by as much as 14 points.
The Bolts barely looked like the team that made the conference finals last season with the Dyip enjoying a 49-35 lead late in the second quarter before they turned the tides in the second half behind the American import.
Limited to 7 points in the first half, Durham poured in 13 of his output in the 3rd quarter while Mike Tolomia and Ranidel de Ocampo conjoined for 16 points as Meralco entered the final frame with an 85-76 advantage.
It was a nip-and-tuck battle in the payoff period with Columbian knotting the score at 106-all following a Glen Khobuntin layup but the Bolts quickly regained the upper hand thanks to a Baser Amer layup with 58 seconds left, 108-106.
The Dyip, missing two potential equalizers within the final minute, had one final chance to tie the game after Durham split his freebies only to witness Roider Cabrera airball his last-second trey.
Amer backstopped Durham with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists while Tolomia chipped in 14 points. Cliff Hodge added 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks and De Ocampo and Anjo Caram had 10 apiece in the win.
Debuting Columbian import Akeem Wright saw his 30-point, 14-rebound and 4-assist performance go down the drain as he was substituted out in the final two seconds due to an apparent injury.
Jerramy King had 24 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the losing effort.
Meralco 109 - Durham 26, Amer 23, Tolomia 14, Hodge 11, Caram 10, de Ocampo 10, Canaleta 9, Salva 4, Newsome 2, Hugnatan 0, Laneta 0, Bono 0.
Columbian 106 - Wright 30, King 24, Khobuntin 10, Corpuz 10, Escoto 8, Camson 8, McCarthy 5, Celda 5, Tubid 2, Cahilig 2, Cabrera 2, Lastimosa 0.
Quarters: 26-25, 53-43, 85-76, 109-106.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.