MERALCO outlasted Star, 83-81, behind a solid defensive effort down the stretch to climb to the upper half of the standings in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Bolts stood toe to toe with the Hotshots in a tight contest all-game long, before making the necessary stops at crunch time—capped by denying a Marqus Blakely potential game-winning triple—to frustrate the defending conference champions.
Meralco thus improved to an even 2-2 win-loss card to move to a tie with San Miguel Beer for fourth spot, while dealing Star its second straight close loss after a triumphant debut in its title-retention bid.
“We committed ourselves in playing defense tonight,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “Offensively, we had much better balance. It wasn’t all Andre Emmett today.”
Emmett, the Bolts’ prolific import, still carried the brunt of the load with 37 points and 15 boards as Asian reinforcement Seiya Ando was the only other player to score in double digits, although Cliff Hodge and Danny Ildefonso chipped in eight points apiece.
Emmett likewise made a crucial defensive play with a steal off a Hotshots inbound, leading to a Danny Ildefonso stab that gave the Bolts a four-point cushion that proved insurmountable with a little over a minute left.
Blakely finished with 20 points as he missed the three-pointer from the top of the key over the outstretched arms of Ildefonso.
Devance then missed a putback, although the versatile forward scored seven of his 15 points in the fourth quarter that kept the Hotshots within striking distance. Alex Mallari chipped in 13 markers, including two on a layup that nudged Star to within two that turned out to the final count.
Usual closers James Yap and PJ Simon combined for just 12 points and sat on the bench in the crucial moments.
MERALCO 83 – Emmett 37, Ando 11, Hodge 8, Ildefonso 8, Cortez 5, Anthony 4, David 4, Wilson 3, Guevarra 2, Hugnatan 1, Reyes 0, Sena 0, Caram 0, Ferriols 0, Macapagal 0
STAR 81 – Blakely 20, Devance 15, Mallari 13, Yap 8, Melton 7, Reavis 6, Simon 4, Barroca 4, Pingris 4, Alvarez 0, Gaco 0, Maliksi 0, Allado 0, Pennisi 0, Taha 0
Quarterscores: 19-18, 41-42, 63-64, 83-81