By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Steady point guard Aaron Black broke the hearts of the Magnolia Hotshots Chicken Timplados and helped the Meralco Bolts boot them out of the 2023 PBA Governor’s Cup.
The former Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles floor general sank the hail mary perimeter shot that forced overtime with Meralco getting the better of the Chicken Timplados in the extra period, 113-107, to protect their twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the Governor’s Cup last March 22, 2023.
With 23 seconds left in the final frame and Magnolia seeking to hang on with their 96-94 lead, skipper Chris Newsome delivered the biggest stop of the stretch after swiping the ball off Antonio Hester’s hands to gain the last possession of the fourth.
Meralco still had 19 seconds left to attack but decided to settle things down for the best shot available.
As Newsome was getting locked up by Mark Barroca at the top of the key, Black answered the call for the Bolts after receiving the pass and bailed them out with a miracle fadeaway looper that just went in at the nick of time to force overtime.
Black’s buzzer-beater then demoralized the whole Magnolia team in the extra five minutes and helped Meralco complete the stunning comeback win after going down by double digits in the first three quarters.
Magnolia was looking sharp in the first 36 minutes of the matchup after firing from all cylinders led by no other than Paul Lee who took charge midway through the second quarter with his long three-point stop-and-pop bombs.
Hester, who was receiving double teams all game long due to his post prowess, managed to sneak out and deliver big-time deuces in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
However, in the last four minutes of the third, KJ McDaniels and Newsome joined hands to keep Meralco in the game that trimmed Magnolia’s lead to just a single digit.
The duo’s fine play then equalized things up at 78-all, officially putting the Bolts back into the ball game that turned a once one-sided contest into a nip-and-tuck affair.
In the end, it was Meralco who stepped up to the bright lights in the overtime period that sent the Chicken Timplados packing to setup a semifinal clash with the rolling TNT Tropang Giga.
Newsome top-scored for the Bolts with a huge 33-point outing to go alongside 11 rebounds while McDaniels added 27 points and 10 boards.
Meanwhile, the game’s hero, Black, chipped in 16 markers including the buzzer beater that kept Meralco’s hopes alive of advancing to the PBA semifinals.