MERALCO banked on a late barrage to avoid the upset ax from Mahindra, 94-86, and solidify its hold of the top spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts finished the game with 16 unanswered points to turn an eight-point deficit into an eight-point lead on the way to their second straight win - and seventh in nine outings.
Cliff Hodge registered a game-high 25 points and 11 boards, while Jimmy Alapag and Baser Amer sparked the comeback with their long-range sniping for the Bolts with import Arinze Onuaku getting most of the attention.
Onuaku still finished with 16 points, 17 boards, four assists, and two blocks for the Bolts, who dropped the Enforcers below .500 with a 4-5 win-loss record.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Bolts coach Norman Black, whose team moved closer to clinching one of the top two spots that comes with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals after finishing dead-last in the Philippine Cup.
“We had to switch up our offensive philosophy from going mostly into the post to attacking on the outside with our pick-and-rolls,” he added.
The Bolts also shone defensively as they held the Enforcers scoreless in the last three minutes and 38 seconds after LA Revilla scored a teardrop that put Mahindra up, 86-78.
But Amer and Alapag alternated in burying three triples, before Hodge scored five straight points to suddenly turn the game around.
August Gilchrist led the Enforcers with 20 points and 13 boards in 43 minutes, but was scoreless in the payoff period
MERALCO 94 – Hodge 25, Onuaku 16, Newsome 15, Hugnatan 13, Alapag 8, Dillinger 7, Amer 6, Faundo 4, Bono 0, Buenafe Ry. 0, Ferriols 0, Caram 0
MAHINDRA 86 – Gilchrist 20, Dehesa 15, Ramos 12, Yee 11, Revilla 10, Canaleta 6, Digregorio 3, Pinto 3, BAgatsing 2, Ballesteros 2, Guinto 2
Quarterscores: 18-29, 45-44, 60-70, 94-86