Sol Mercado sizzles in debut as Barako Bull rips import-less Blackwater
Barako Bull new boy Sol Mercado fired 20 points in the win over Blackwater. Jerome Ascano

SOLOMON Mercado led a key fourth-quarter blitz as Barako Bull ripped import-less Blackwater, 92-70, to start its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on a high note on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Acquired from GlobalPort in a swap for guard Denok Miranda early this month, the six-foot Mercado showed his old, deadly form by firing 20 points to go along three rebounds, three assists and  a steal.

The 'Sol Train' also stood at the forefront of a 15-0 blast to open the fourth period that turned what until then was a tight two-point contest into a 75-58 bubble for the Energy.

“We did well defensively because ang goal namin was to give our opponents 20 points per quarter and we limited them to 17 and 15 in the first half,” said Barako Bull coach Koy Banal.

Banal also praised Mercado, who despite practicing with the team only once last Saturday since recovering from a minor foot surgery wasted no time making his mark for the team.

“Nag-deliver siya (Mercado). We got a gem as well in Sol Mercado because he did a good job in leading the team on both ends,” said the soft-spoken Energy coach.

“Makikita niyo lang siguro, medyo kapos pa hininga niya because he just practiced last Saturday. Nagpa-opera kasi siya, and he’s still trying to get in shape physically.”

Blackwater played without seven-foot import Chris Charles, who was nursing a hamstring injury.

Without the two-time ABL MVP protecting the rim and providing inside presence, the Elite remained winless in their maiden season after dropping their 12th straight contest dating back to the Philippine Cup.

Barako Bull’s Nigerian import Solomon Alabi also had a field day in Charles' absence, coming away with 21 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks in 38 minutes of action.

The bigger Energy dominated the boards, 56-45, scored more points in the paint (38-20), while enjoyed a 17-8 edge in fastbreak points.

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Chico Lanete added 19 points for Barako Bull, while JC Intal chipped in 13 in a balanced scoring attack.

Big man Bryan Faundo was the lone double-figure scorer fr the woeful Blackwater side with 16 points.

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