MANILA, Philippines – Meralco will live to fight another day after squeaking past San Miguel, 95-91, in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, July 17.
Imports Delroy James carried the scoring cudgels down the stretch and finished with 34 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks as the Bolts improved to 4-7 and earned a shot to play in the playoff for the No. 8 seat.
Alaska will tangle with Meralco for the last quarterfinals spot as Phoenix, which ended the elimination round with the same record as the two teams, was eliminated due to an inferior quotient.
James could do no wrong in the endgame, scoring back-to-back buckets over Beermen import Chris McCullough that broke a 91-91 deadlock and gave his side the victory.
McCullough was given a chance to trim their deficit, but muffed both of his free throw attempts with 20 seconds remaining as San Miguel saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
Chris Newsome chalked up 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, Raymond Almazan had 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Brian Faundo added 10 points for the Bolts.
The victory also determined the playoff fate of other teams, with No. 4 Barangay Ginebra and No. 5 Magnolia facing early in the quarterfinals.
McCullough delivered 27 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks, but committed 9 turnovers as the Beermen bank on the Hotshots winning their final elimination round game to avoid falling to No. 7 and face a twice-to-beat disadvantage.
If Magnolia topples TNT, San Miguel will remain at No. 6 and will clash with No. 5 Blackwater. If not, San Miguel will drop to No. 7 and face No. 2 NorthPort.
June Mar Fajardo also had 27 points to go with 13 rebounds, while Terrence Romeo added 11 points in the loss.
Meralco 95 - James 34, Newsome 20, Almazan 15, Faundo 10, Amer 8, Jackson 3, Quinto 3, Hodge 2, Salva 0, De Ocampo 0.
San Miguel 91 - McCullough 27, Fajardo 27, Romeo 11, Standhardinger 9, Santos 6, Lassiter 3, Pessumal 3, Nabong 3, Ross 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 22-21, 42-42, 74-70, 95-91.