ALLEN Durham made sure Meralco won't go down without one big fight.
"They fought very hard to get that twice-to-win advantage and there's a reason why," added Black. "We just have to go out, try to win one more game to make it to the semifinals. That's going to be our focus tomorrow in practice, try to correct whatever errors we had today and try to come out better."
Allen Durham led a sustained second half attack by the Bolts which resulted in a 90-74 victory over Phoenix Wednesday and forced a rubber match in their PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals duel at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Durham scattered 18 of his team-high 26 points in the last two quarters of play and got plenty of help from the likes of Chris Newsome and Baser Amer as seventh-ranked Meralco neutralized the second seeded Phoenix's twice-to-win advantage.
The Bolts now have an even shot when the deciding match is played out Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco coach Norman Black remains guardedly optimistic despite his team's fifth straight win in all. "It's just one game and we need two," he pointed out.
The Bolts could take the good lessons from the way they started the third quarter, going on a 27-10 tear to raze a 33-35 deficit and erect a 60-45 spread.
The momentum gained from that surge spilled over into the fourth period as Durham's three-point play gave the Bolts a safe 88-72 spread, only two minutes left.
For Phoenix, it's back to the drawing board after making just 14 of 44 shots in the second half to Meralco's 21-of-38 shooting.
Eugene Phelps had game-highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds, but made just 12 of 24 of his shots.
Calvin Abueva had his own double-double of 18 points and 12 boards, but fouled out with still 3:03 left and Meralco comfortably up 83-72.
Matthew Wright missed his first seven shots and wound up with only eight points in typifying the Fuel Masters' struggles that became more evident as the game wore on.
"They're also a defensive team, but we clamped down a little bit better in the second half and our shots started falling a little bit more," said Black.
Durham personified that the most by also finishing with 16 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots while Newsome added 16 points and Amer 14 points and six assists.
KG Canaleta chipped in nine points and seven boards with Reynel Hugnatan adding seven and eight helping loosen up the defense on Durham.
"Their defense on Durham was good in the first half," noted Black. "They were double-teaming him and taking him out of the game. We made a few adjustments in offense, tried to take away their helping defense and it worked out for us."
Both teams actually had their struggles in the early goings, but Phoenix got off to a good start when Phelps and Abueva propped it to an early 17-8
As soon as the Fuel Masters' starters had to be rested, the Bolts came fighting right back, a trend that went on until the halftime break.(NC)
Meralco 90 - Durham 26, Newsome 16, Amer 14, Tolomia 9, Canaleta 9, Hugnatan 7, Salva 5, Dillinger 2, Faundo 2, Hodge 0, Ballesteros 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0.
Phoenix 74 - Phelps 27, Abueva 18, Perkins 9, Wright 8, Chua 6, Intal 4, Jazul 2, Revilla 0, Kramer 0, Wilson 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarters: 15-17, 33-35, 66-55, 90-74.