MERALCO pounced on a San Mig side that lacked the fight minus the talismanic Marc Pingris to cruise to an 88-78 victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Darnell Jackson and Gary David conspired in a third-quarter breakaway that saw the Bolts build a sizeable cushion and surprisingly encounter only token resistance from the Mixers, who missed injured star forward Pingris.
The triumph allowed the Bolts to supplant the back-to-back titlists in fourth spot with a 5-4 win-loss slate and relegate their victims to a three-way tie for fifth with Rain or Shine at 4-4.
The loss also knocked San Mig out of the race for one of two twice-to-beat spots in the quarterfinals.
“We wanted to put our spirit to the test against a champion team,” Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio said. “And we were rewarded with the victory primarily because of the effort we rendered.”
Jackson sustained his dominant showing with 31 points and 18 boards, while David finished with 18 markers, including 10 in the third canto.
Jared Dillinger chipped in 21 points, including a short fadeaway jumper that gave the Bolts their biggest lead at 16 points, 88-72, capping a huge turnaround after trailing by two points at halftime.
After squandering a first-half lead, the undermanned Mixers never came closer than nine points in the payoff period despite the efforts of import James Mays, who carried the SMC fight with 33 points, 11 boards, two assists, and two steals.
Meralco (88) – Jackson 31, Dillinger 21, David 18, Hugnatan 6, Sena 4, Timberlake 2, Guevarra 2, Wilson 2, Hodge 2
San Mig (78) – Mays 33, Simon 13, Mallari 12, Yap 8, Devance 4, Barroca 4, Cawaling 2, Reavis 2, De Ocampo 0, Sangalang 0
Quarterscores: 26-18, 39-41, 66-58, 88-78