MANILA, Philippines – Aaron Black saved Meralco from the jaws of elimination by powering their 96-92 escape over San Miguel in Game 6 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, August 14.
Black scattered 11 of his 17 points in the final two minutes as the Bolts stormed back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth to knot the series at 3-3 and keep their hopes of a maiden All-Filipino finals appearance alive.
The Beermen savored a 90-80 lead with less than five minutes left before Black capped a tide-turning 13-0 run with 8 straight points to give his side a 93-90 edge.
A bungled Meralco inbounds play led to San Miguel star CJ Perez being fouled on a three-pointer, but he failed to tie the game by making just 2 of his 3 free throws.
Black – who also posted 6 assists and 5 rebounds – then sank 3 of his 4 foul shots inside the last five seconds as the Bolts extended their conference on the back of a sensational 16-2 blast.
“I’m really proud of Aaron, not just because of tonight but where he has come from as a basketball player,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black, who drafted his son three years ago.
Chris Newsome topscored for the Bolts with 19 points on top of 7 rebounds and 3 assists, while Cliff Hodge churned out 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Meralco also turned to Chris Banchero, who breached double figures in scoring for the first time in the semifinals with 13 points to go with 3 assists.
Raymond Almazan added 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Bolts.
June Mar Fajardo put the Beermen on his back with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but their inability to protect leads doomed their chances of advancing to the finals for the first time in three years.
San Miguel led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, but that advantage gradually vanished as Meralco tied the game at 74-74 off a Banchero triple to start the fourth period.
Vic Manuel finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Perez had 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals in the loss.
Marcio Lassiter set the tone for the Beermen with 12 points in the opening quarter, but he struggled to make an impact the rest of the way as he finished with 14 points and 3 rebounds.
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.
Quarters: 33-22, 56-45, 74-71, 96-92.