MERALCO finally displayed the effort that allowed the squad to reach the finals in the last Governors’ Cup as it stunned Rain or Shine, 82-72, to keep it slim postseason hopes alive in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Bolts banked on a blistering start and pounced on an Elasto Painters side that couldn’t seem to shoot straight for the most part as they put an end to a six-game losing streak.
Cliff Hodge was his usual workhorse self, pouring in 17 points, 16 boards, and four blocks, while Chris Newsome registered a game-high 19 points and six assists to lead the Bolts, who won for only the third time in 10 games, leaving their fate not entirely in their hands anymore.
Jonathan Uyloan added 14 points built around four triples, the last one from the right corner that proved to be the dagger against his former team as the E-Painters failed to secure a playoff berth for the second straight game, dropping to a 5-4 win-loss record.
“We’re keeping our hopes up,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We’re hoping the other teams lose. Basically we don’t have control of our destiny.
“More importantly, we’re just happy we won,” he added. “Happy to see the players put in a lot more effort. I wish I had seen this five or six games back, but I’m happy.”
“At least traffic will be more enjoyable when he go home,” the American mentor continued.
The Bolts clicked on both ends early, zooming to a 35-20 lead after the first quarter, a sizeable cushion they maintained throughout the game against an E-Painters side that made just 26 of their 84 shots for a poor 31 percent from the field.
RoS, though, made a late run, scoring eight unanswered points – all but two coming from James Yap – down the stretch to pull to within eight points, 77-69, with over three minutes left.
But the Bolts delivered under pressure this time to hold on, with Uyloan proving to be a thorn on the side of the E-Painters with a triple that stopped the rally, giving Meralco an 80-69 lead.
Meralco 82 – Newsome 19, Hodge 17, Uyloan 14, Al-Hussaini 10, Chua 9, Hugnatan 4, Dillinger 3, Daquioag 2, Grey 2, Amer 0
Rain or Shine 72 – Yap 17, Ponferada 11, Chan 9, Cruz 9, Belga 7, Trollano 7, Washington 6, Tiu 4, Norwood 2, Ahanmisi 0, Matias 0
Quarterscores: 35-20, 49-35, 68-56, 82-72