GARY David led Meralco’s blazing second-half offensive while Jared Dillinger typified the team’s relentless defense as the Bolts clobbered the Alaska Aces, 74-65 to keep their playoff hopes alive in the PLDT myDSL-Philippine Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Not even Calvin Abueva’s game-long hounding could keep 'El Granada' from exploding for the second straight game against the Aces, who David torched with 17 second-half points as he led the Bolts to leads of 15 points from the last deadlock at 40-all.
David finished with 24 points.
Supplying the hustle on the defensive end was the 6-4 Dillinger, who had two crucial blocks against the high-leaping Alaska guard Cyrus Baguio in the stretch run.
“I told them to be ready for war. It’s not gonna be easy against Alaska because they are fighting for survival just like us,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
The Bolts got the big playoff boost they needed after winning their second straight game to improve to 5-7, in a tie with idle Barako Bull for a share of fifth and sixth spot.
The game became testy early in the final period when Calvin Abueva and Jared Dillinger got entangled in the cushioned railing beneath the basket.
The 'Beast' hit Dillinger with a wayward elbow while his momentum carried him over the railing, before the Meralco Fil-Am guard stood up and pushed down Abueva.
Game officials eventually slapped Dillinger and Abueva with a double technical for taunting and second motion.
“We don’t like flopping in the league,” said Gregorio, referring to the Dillinger-Abueva altercation.
Gregorio acused Abueva of flopping during that play, triggering the altercation.
“It’s hard enough for the referees to call the legitimate calls and legitimate non-calls. Now if you fake it, wow, it’s gonna be harder for them (referees to make the right call),” he added.
Dillinger, who started at point guard in place of injured playmakers Mike Cortez and Anjo Caram, finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two blocks to earn Player of the Game honors.
JV Casio led Alaska with 15 points as Alaska fell to 4-8 after shooting just 33.3 percent in the game.
Meralco 74 - David 24, Dillinger 10, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 9, Salvacion 8, Wilson 7, Artadi 4, Ildefonso 2, Al-Hussaini 0, Guevarra 0.
Alaska 65 - Casio 15, Thoss 14, Espinas 13, Baguio 7, Abueva 6, Ramos 5, Dela Cruz 2, Jazul 2, Hontiveros 1, Exciminiano 0, Eman 0.
Quarterscores: 24-17, 40-32, 65-51, 74-65