MERALCO simply refused to go on vacation yet as it overwhelmed Alaska, 86-70, on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to drag their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series to a deciding game.
After getting blown out by 20 points in Game Three, the Bolts returned the favor with a rejuvenated defensive effort in Game Four, shrugging off a late stand by the Aces to cruise to the victory.
Jared Dillinger caught fire anew with four triples, including a heave from backcourt to end the third, on the way to a team-high 17 points, while Arinze Onuaku anchored the Bolts anew with 16 points and 16 boards.
Cliff Hodge added 14 markers, providing the energy and hustle that typified the Bolts’ desire to stay alive, while Bryan Faundo also shone in quality minutes and Jimmy Alapag came through in the clutch anew.
“This game is about trying to live to fight another day,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We really got back to the basics as far as our defense is concerned…and it really held up for us.”
Game Five is on Wednesday night also at the Big Dome.
The Bolts gave the Aces a dose of their own medicine, holding the defense-oriented squad to 33-percent shooting while forcing them to commit 21 turnovers – that all proved a factor in Meralco gaining a 77-56 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Aces, though, didn’t go down without a fight as they mounted on a familiar comeback, a 10-2 run, capped by two Calvin Abueva free throws that pulled them to within 13 points, but that was the closest they got as Alapag douse the fire with a right-wing three pointer.
Rob Dozier tallied 18 points and 15 boards, but was held to just one point in the payoff period that spelled a difference in the Aces’ downfall.
MERALCO 86 – Dillinger 17, Onuaku 16, Hodge 14, Faundo 12, Caram 8, Newsome 7, Alapag 6, Hugnatan 6. Bono 0, Buenafe Ry 0, Amer 0
ALASKA 70 – Dozier 18, Abueva 10, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 8, Baclao 6, Thoss 6, Banchero 5, Exciminiano 3, Baguio 2, Dela Rosa 2, Dela Cruz 0, Eman 0
Quarterscores: 19-16, 36-34, 62-52, 86-70