THE hoop gods finally smiled on Meralco on Sunday when it barged into the win column of the PBA Governors’ Cup with an 88-87 escape act against Alaska at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts got a major boost from fit-again Mike Cortez and bucked a few breakdowns down the stretch to seize their first victory in five games while handing the Aces their third loss in five matches.
“It’s been a trying conference for us,” Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio said. “But we finally showed courage in adversity.”
“With this win, we’ve made ourselves relevant once again,” he added.
Mario West and Cliff Hodge delivered as usual, but it was Cortez, who played in his first game in five months, who provided the much needed spark that was missing in their first four games as he tallied 19 points, five assists, and three boards.
The Bolts, though, nearly suffered another heartbreaker as they squandered a lead by committing a handful of errors in the endgame before holding on.
Alaska had the chance to complete a comeback from five-points down in the final 14 seconds as Henry Walker set up Dondon Hontiveros for a shot at a winning basket in the game's final play with a drive and draw play.
But the normally unflappable hitman passed up on a three-point shot and again elected not to take a medium-range jumper, choosing instead to drive to the basket.
When he found the lane too crowded, Hontiveros ended up passing out to Walker who only had time to put up a hurried three-point shot as time expired.
He missed the hoop completely.
Meralco (88) – West 21, Hodge 20, Cortez 19, Hugnatan 16, Guevarra 9, David 3, Bringas 0, Caram 0, Sena 0
Alaska (87) – Walker 25, Abueva 17, Casio 15, Espinas 13, Baguio 9, Jazul 3, Hontiveros 3, Manuel 2, Belasco 0, Dela Cruz 0, Thoss 0
Quarterscores: 21-20, 44-38, 66-64, 88-87