The Meralco Bolts blew a huge lead but remained poised in the end-game to down TNT KaTropa, 103-100, in overtime and force a do-or-die Game Three in their Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series on Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Guard Baser Amer had a stellar night, scoring 32 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead the Bolts who squandered a 19-point lead.
Cliff Hodge scored 15 points and 10 boards, while Kelly Nabong also had 15 markers including big baskets in overtime that helped Meralco stave off TNT.
The Bolts got off to a 16-2 start, and expanded their lead, 32-13, after the first quarter.
KaTropa however got themselves back in the game after starting the second period with a 10-0 run.
TNT played catch-up for the remainder of the game and got a break after Meralco suffered a power outage in the fourth quarter. The Bolts went scoreless in the last 5:50 of regulation, with their score stuck at 92 points.
As Meralco import Alex Stepheson fouled with 1:53 remaining, the Bolts suddenly struggled and could only watch TNT uncork an 11-0 run capped by an RR Garcia triple and Joshua Smith’s game-tying free throw to knot things up at 92-all.
Chris Newsome had a chance to give the win to the Bolts but his triple at the buzzer went off the mark.
The Bolts then got a huge lift from Nabong in overtime as he scored back-to-back baskets that kept the Bolts afloat, 98-95, with 53 ticks left.
He also scored a split from the line that pushed Meralco’s lead, 101-97, with 11 seconds left to dim TNT’s comeback. Garcia fired a tough triple on the other end, but Nabong hit another two from the line.
With no timeouts left, TNT was forced to give the ball to Kelly Williams who missed his triple attempt as time expired.
Game Three is set on Friday, with the winner facing No.1 seed Barangay Ginebra in the semifinals.