SOLOMON Mercado proved a thorn in the side of his former team Meralco as he combined with Jay Washington in a second-half fightback that carried GlobalPort to a 93-89 win in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Mercado banged in 19 of his personal conference-high 33 points in the second half, including three crucial free throws down the stretch, while Washington added 27 on a night when nothing was going right offensively for high-scoring rookie guard Terrence Romeo.
But more importantly, the Batang Pier made some crucial stops in the final 30 seconds and forced John Wilson and Jared Dillinger to take hurried shots from beyond the arc as they snapped their two-game losing skid to pull even with the Bolts at 2-3 (win-loss).
They Said It!
“We were able to execute our defensive game plan today, especially limiting (the Bolts') shooters." - GlobalPort coach Richie Ticzon
“We were able to execute our defensive game plan today, especially limiting their (Bolts) shooters,” said Globalport interim coach Ritchie Ticzon.
Ticzon said he was happy to see Mercado take charge after asking him to shift from playmaking to being a scorer, entering the game against the Bolts.
“If you noticed, Sol came off the bench, pero, we tried to shift him from point guard to off guard. Now, he’s more and more comfortable with our system,” he added.
Romeo, the reigning UAAP MVP, was held down to just four points, struggling mightily against Meralco’s bigger defenders.
But his absence was ably filled in by his fellow rookie RR Garcia, who scored 12 points including two three-pointers late in the final period in a strong supporting role to Mercado and Washington.
Meralco, which led by nine points at halftime, slowly relinquished the lead in the second half after getting clobbered by Globalport’s bigger frontline of Washington and Jondan Salvador.
Globalport, which dropped its last two outings against Barangay Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text, outrebounded the injury-ravaged Meralco squad, 52-37.
Gary David and Mike Cortez had 18 points apiece to lead the Bolts, came into the game with forwards Cliff Hodge and Reynel Hugnatan, who both are out with sprained ankles. Off season acquisition Kerby Raymundo has yet to play this season due to a nagging knee injury.
GLOBALPORT 93 - Mercado 33, Washington 27, Garcia 12, Lingganay 6, Hayes 4, Romeo 4, Salvador 4, Yee 3, Menk 0, Nabong 0, Chua 0, Belencion 0, Salva 0.
MERALCO 89 - David 18, Cortez 18, Salvacion 15, Dillinger 13, Wilson 11, Al-Hussaini 7, Allado 7, Caram 0, Sena 0, Guevarra 0.
Quarters: 21-22, 37-46, 66-64, 93-89