Allein Maliksi and Co. would not let Meralco go out without a fight.
Maliksi picked up from where Nards Pinto and Chris Newsome left off in boosting the Bolts over the Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok Hotshots 102-98 Wednesday in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
In his finest scoring game in a Meralco uniform, Maliksi strung up nine of his game-high 29 points in the game’s final 3:28, breaking the Bolts from the last deadlock at 90-all and giving them the much-needed separation in a tightly-fought game.
There is little time to celebrate for Meralco, however, as all it did was whittle its deficit in the best-of-seven series to 2-3 with Magnolia again taking another shot at sealing the deal in Game 6 Friday.
Still, the sterling effort displayed by his Bolts were enough to please coach Norman Black no end. “It was a very gutsy performance on the part of my players to go out and battle the entire game,” he said.
“We also fought the Magnolia team on a good night,” added Black. “I thought they played well tonight. They really played to go out and shut us off already and eliminate us. But we stood our ground… and gave ourselves a chance to come back in the series.”
Indeed, Magnolia displayed its intention to end the duel as early as possible, with Mark Barroca, Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva trying their best.