MERALCO leaned on the heroics of import Darnell Jackson to survive a weary Rain or Shine squad, 94-91, and gain a head start in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal series on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jackson, an NBA veteran, hit two crucial baskets that put the Bolts up for good and enable them to edge past an Elasto Painters side that played its second game in as many nights.
“We made sure we pounced on our edge,” Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio said. “And good thing, Darnell was able to bail us out.”
Jackson registered 30 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists, but converted just 12 of 32 attempts from the field.
Still he made made the two shots that mattered most, the first a fadeaway jumper over Beau Belga that gave the Bolts a 92-90 lead, then another step-back variety over Painters import Wayne Chism.
Jackson conspired with Gary David, who was also as hot as the summer heat, firing 27 points in the last three quarters, including 11 in the payoff period, where the Bolts stayed within striking distance.
Cliff Hodge then shone on the defensive end, preserving the hard-earned victory with a block on Paul Lee’s potential game-tying triple.
The fifth-seeded Bolts can close the best-of-three series out on Wednesday in Game Two.
Chism put up a second successive solid outing with 27 points, 12 boards, two blocks that all went for naught for the fourth-seeded Painters.
Meralco (94) – Jackson 30, David 27, Dillinger 15, Hodge 9, Wilson 5, Timberlake 4, Hugnatan 4, Ildefonso 0, Sena 0
Rain or Shine (91) – Chism 27, Lee 15, Arana 10, Tiu 10, Almazan 9, Chan 8, Norwood 8, Nuyles 2, Rodriguez 2, Belga 0, Cruz 0, Tang 0, Teng 0
Quarterscores: 21-19, 40-44, 69-71, 94-91