IMPORT Brian Butch knocked down the go-ahead, wide-open three-point shot, before adding two more free throws in the dying seconds as Meralco escaped with a 104-99 win over hard luck Globalport in the main game of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-10 Butch finished the game with a personal league career-high of 42 points, spiked by six three-point shots as his endgame heroics gave Meralco a 2-1 record that forged a three-way logjam at third to fifth spot in the standings.
“We really braced ourselves from a lot of physicality early. I thought they (Batang Pier) did a good job destroying our rhythm,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio after the game.
The Bolts blew a 17-point third quarter lead owing to their poor free throw shooting, giving the Batang Pier the much-needed momentum to mount a furious rally in the fourth period.
Terrence Romeo, averaging just 5.3 points in 15 minutes of action during his first three games, dished off his best game in the young conference after tallying 21 points, four rebounds, and six assists before fouling out late in the game.
His three big dish-offs during a crucial stretch in the fourth period gave the Batang Pier the momentum with import Evan Brock tying the game at 97-all with 1:26 to go in the game after connecting on both free throws.
The effort of Romeo, which comes a day before he turns 22, went for naught in the end as Butch’s clutch endgame shooting spoiled what could have been an early birthday present for the former UAAP MVP.
The loss kept new Globaport coach Pido Jarencio winless four games into the import-laden conference, with just five matches left in the shortened elimination round format.
Brock led the Batang Pier with another monster effort of 32 points, 23 rebounds, and three assists but missed on two crucial free throws that could have given the team the lead at 97-all.
Sophomore big man Jewel Ponferrada added 10 points and five rebounds for Globalport, which played its fourth game in the first 10 days of the tournament.
Meralco (104) -- Butch 42, David 16, Caram 9, Hugnatan 9, Wilson 8, Mandani 6, Hodge 6, Ildefonso 5, Guevarra 3, Al-Hussaini 0, Artadi 0.
Globalport (99) -- Brock 32, Romeo 21, Ponferrada 10, salvador 6, Custodio 6, Washington 5, Macapagal 5, Salva 4, Yee 3, Cabagnot 3, Nabong 2, Garcia 2, Chua 0.
Quarterscores: 27-28; 56-41, 84-74, 104-99.