Aaron Black refused to go on an early vacation and carried Meralco on his back in the final two minutes to come out on top of the wild windup against San Miguel Beer, 96-92, in Game 6 of their best-of-seven semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, Aug. 14.
The Beermen looked poised in completing their passage to the Finals after surviving numerous rallies from the Bolts and erecting a 10-point cushion, 90-80, with 4:23 left in the game.
Meralco, however, unleashed a desperation rally with Black, who has been struggling since Game 5 and in the first three quarters of Game 6, suddenly coming alive and scored the Bolts’ last 11 points to stave off elimination and force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday still at the Big Dome.
Meralco head coach Norman Black who once upon a time, graced the PBA court and ended up being on the greatest, is happy to see his son Aaron flourish well in the PBA.
“I’m proud of Aaron not just because of tonight but on where’s coming from a basketball player. I thin he improved a lot in the last couple of years and he’s career has been upward path here in the PBA. I’m happy that he took over the game today. He actually told me give me the ball and set pick and rolls and get it done. He went out there and did it so, I’m really happy that he was able t back up what he was saying out there,” said the elder Black.
Black’s late flurry capped off a blazing 16-2 finishing kick from Meralco which left the good-sized crowd inside the venue on the edge of their seats in the waning seconds.
Back-to-back layups from Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge triggered the run before Black made a triple, two free throws and a three-point play in a streaking fashion to suddenly pull Meralco ahead, 93-90, with 31 seconds left.
The Bolts then collectively held their breath after they sent CJ Perez to the foul line when he got clipped while taking a right corner three-pointer. Meralco dodged a huge bullet as Perez went 2-of-3 from the foul line and allowed Meralco to complete the great escape.
Newsome kept the fight for the Bolts who trailed for the most part of the game, finishing with 19 points and seven rebounds while Black wound up with 17 points and six rebounds.
June Mar Fajardo gave all his might against a plethora of defenders from the side of the Bolts, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds while Vic Manuel chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds.
All of those, however, went for naught as the Beermen just couldn’t find any answer to the Bolts’ streaking run, wasting an SMB lead which went to as high as 16 in the first half.
San Miguel actually had the chance to inch closer after a window was left open when Black split his charities with eight seconds left in the game. Chris Ross, however, heaved a coast-to-coast inbound pass attempt which was perfectly anticipated by Bong Quinto.