MANILA, Philippines -- After a pair of subpar performances, Alaska import Mike Harris finally broke loose from Magnolia's defense in the PBA Governors' Cup finals.
Harris had 20 points and 15 rebounds in Game 1, and 22 points and 13 rebounds in Game 2 -- good numbers for most players, but well below the reinforcement's usual standards after averaging 29.82 points and 21.7 rebounds per game in the elimination round.
That Alaska lost both games only underscored Harris's struggles.
But with the Aces staring at a 0-2 hole in the best-of-7 series, Harris came alive in Game 3 on Sunday. He put up 36 points, 22 of which came in a terrific third quarter where he single-handedly outscored the Hotshots. Harris scored from all over the floor, nailing off-balanced lay-ups and putting back misses, and finally, draining three straight three-pointers.
"I got a couple of shots to go in," the 35-year-old import said after the game. "Very fortunate to finally hit some outside shots."
When the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, Harris had towed Alaska to a huge 83-50 lead over the Hotshots. He sat out the fourth frame, and watched from the bench as the Aces cruised to a 100-71 triumph.
Harris, who made 14 of 22 shots, added 18 rebounds, a steal and a block in just 30 minutes of action. Afterward, he gave credit to his teammates who continued to encourage him even after a couple of poor games.
"Good thing, my teammates, they know what I'm capable of, and they just told me to keep shooting," he said. "Today was just one of those days."
"We're down 2-0, and they did a great job defensively on us in the first two games," Harris also said. "I saw some openings from the film, and I was able to take advantage of it and get some lay-ups in the first to get going."
As impressive as his performance was, however, Harris also noted that they are still down in the best-of-7 series.
"We just prevented a sweep," he pointed out.
"I think now, we got their attention a little bit more," he added. "But they have our attention as well. They're leading 2-1."
Game 4 is on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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