JOHN Wilson led Meralco’s second-quarter attack as the Bolts tore apart a listless Air21 Express, 112-79, to chalk up their first win in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-1 Wilson fired 13 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the three-point arc during the Bolts’ decisive 38-point second-quarter explosion against his former team en route to a 54-36 halftime lead.
While Meralco was humming offensively, it was the team’s excellent defense that shackled Air21’s gunners, preventing Nino Canaleta, Joseph Yeo and Asi Taulava from doing any damage.
They Said It!
“We badly needed this win to keep our confidence level high." - Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio
The 6-6 Canaleta, last season’s Most Improved Player, was held to just three points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field.
Yeo, who averaged 23 points coming into the game, was limited to just 10 on a 3-of-13 clip, while the 40-year-old Taulava could only score six in 33 minutes of play.
“We badly needed this win to keep our confidence level high. we wanted to make sure we will be a lot better defensively. And that’s what we did exactly,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, whose team enjoyed the game’s biggest lead at 37 points late in the game.
Wilson, the former NCAA Most Valuable Player (2009) out of Jose Rizal University, exploded for a career-high 26 points including a perfect 6-fo-6 from beyond the arc, while adding five rebounds, two assists, and a block shot in 26 minutes of play.
Meralco, which opened the season with back-to-back losses to Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine, hit a total of 13 three pointers and finished with a high 51.9 shooting percentage from the field.
The 33-point win by the Bolts also eclipsed the franchise’s previous 29-point rout of Shopinas.com (Air21’s former name) on June 20, 2012 during the elimination round of the Governors Cup.
The Express missed the service of newly-acquired forward Mark Cardona for the third straight game due to an MCL (medial collateral ligament) tear on his knee.
Ren-Ren Ritualo scored 12 points to lead Air21, which dropped to 0-3 (win-loss).
Meralco (112) - Wilson 26, Salvacion 15, Hugnatan 15, Dillinger 13, Al-Hussaini 11, Cortez 8, David 7, Caram 6, Guevarra 6, Omolon 4, Allado 1, Sena 0.
Air 21 (79) - Ritualo 12, Yeo 10, Menor 8, Sharma 8, Atkins 8, Manuel 8, Custodio 7, Taulava 6, Canaleta 3, Jaime 2, Burtscher 2, Arboleda 2, Camson 2, Espiritu 1.
Quarterscores: 16-15; 54-36; 86-55; 112-79