By Adrian Stewart Co
Allein Maliksi heated up in the endgame as Meralco Bolts stayed alive in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals with a 102-98 Game 5 victory over Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots yesterday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
With the score tied at 90-all, Maliksi broke the deadlock with three free throws and a three-pointer to surge the Bolts ahead at 96-90 with over two minutes left.
The Hotshots rallied to within 93-96 on a split free throw by Ian Sangalang and a put back by Calvin Abueva but Maliksi drilled another triple to stretch the Bolts advantage to 99-93.
Magnolia had its last stand at 98-100 on a triple and an inside hit by Abueva but Raymond Almazan secured Meralco’s victory with two free throws with seven seconds left.
Maliksi finished the match with conference-high 29 points, including seven three-point conversions, as the Bolts trimmed the best-of-seven semifinals series deficit to 2-3.
Nard John Pinto added career-high 24 points, Chris Newsome contributed 23 points, while Almazan ended up with nine points and 10 rebounds for the Bolts.
Andy Mark Barroca top-scored with 25 points, Abueva chipped in 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Ian Sangalang had double-double 15 points and 14 boards for the Hotshots./ASC, WDJ