MERALCO continued its long, arduous climb back to playoff contention after a 91-82 win over Rain or Shine in the PBA Governors Cup on Sunday.
The Bolts went on a 16-3 tear coming home to take the fight out of the Elasto Painters and book a third straight win, improving to 4-6 (win-loss) overall.
The game was tied at 74-all with 8:27 to go when Meralco put together the most crucial run of the game at the Smart Aranata Coliseum.
“It’s just another step,” said winning coach Norman Black afterwards. “Now we put ourselves in a position where we have a chance for the playoffs.”
"Three games ago we we're pretty much given up for dead, so I'm really happy and proud of my team that they continue to fight and that we still have a chance."
Import Allen Durham was again a force to be reckoned with for the Bolts with 19 points, 20 rebounds, and six assists.
The two-time Best Import also got solid contributions from the locals, led by Mike Tolomia, who came off the bench to finish with 17, Cliff Hodge who had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and three others who finished in double figures for the Bolts.
"We had good, balanced scoring tonight. A lot of guys contributing, (Allen) Durham did not have to dominate the game offensively because other guys stepped up and really help," said Black.
"Mike Tolomia came off the bench and gave us a big lift today which really helped us, and other guys who had been pretty consistent throughout also stepped up and did their job offensively."
The loss was a big blow to the playoff bid of Rain or Shine, which fell to a 2-6 record as it lost for the second time in the last three days,
Norbert Torres, stepping up in the absence of the injured Beau Belga, led the Elasto Painters with 16 points, while import Terrence Watson had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Rain or Shine, which played its fourth game in the last nine days, now needs to sweep its three remaining games against Phoenix, San Miguel, and NLEX to have any hope of making the playoffs.
Meralco also has San Miguel standing on its path in its final game in the eliminations, although the Bolts have 12 days of rest before their meeting with the Beermen.
"Thats going to be a tough one because San Miguel is also battling for playoff position," said Black. "But at least we put ourselves in a situation where we still have a chance to make the playoffs."
Meralco (91) - Durham 19, Tolomia 17, Hodge 14, Newsome 12, Caram 11, Hugnatan 10, Salva 4, Amer 2, Jamito 2, Ballesteros 0.
Rain or Shine (82) - Torres 16, Watson 14, Nambatac 13, Daquioag 10, Ponferada 7, Ahanmisi 7, Yap 7, Norwood 6, Borboran 2.
Quarterscores: 19-19; 44-43; 65-65; 91-82.