ANTIPOLO – Meralco simply refuses to be counted out, bringing down erstwhile solo leader Magnolia, 94-88, to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Ynares Center.
After losing six games in a row in one worrying stretch, the Bolts, runners-up in this conference the past two seasons, won two in a row to improve to 3-6 (win-loss) and remain in contention for one of the bottom four spots in the quarterfinals.
Magnolia now shares first place with Barangay Ginebra on 7-2 cards after the Hotshots saw an end to its five-game win streak.
Big baskets by Cliff Hodge and Chris Newsome allowed the Bolts to grab an 85-81 lead which they were able to sustain until the final buzzer.
More than the offense, head coach Norman Black hailed a solid defensive effort that he said was sorely missing during their slump.
“A really good defensive effort on the part of my team tonight,” said Black. “Coming into this game, we knew we are going up against probably the top defensive team in the league. We had to rediscover our defense basically to have a chance in this game.”
Allen Durham had 20 points, 18 rebounds, and eight assists, while Baser Amer had 16 points including two free throws with 33 seconds left for a 92-86 lead.
Reynel Hugnatan also had a big game, scoring 15 points that included a floater which put the Bolts ahead, 88-84.
Meralco climbed to ninth spot with a 3-6 card, putting pressure on eight-placer San Miguel (3-4), which will play TNT on Saturday in Calasiao, Pangasinan.
Romeo Travis had 25 points and 19 rebounds while Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang each had 12 points for Magnolia.
Meralco 94 – Durham 20, Amer 16, Hugnatan 15, Newsome 13, Hodge 12, Salva 8, Jamito 5, Caram 3, Tolomia 2, Faundo 0, Lanete 0, Ballesteros 0.
Magnolia 88 – Travis 25, Lee 12, Sangalang 12, Jalalon 9, Reavis 8, Barroca 8, Brondial 7, Herndon 3, Simon 2, Dela Rosa 2, Ramos 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 24-19; 43-43; 70-66; 94-88.