PETRON survived a fierce fourth-quarter fightback by Meralco as it held on to a heart-stopping 88-86 win for its third straight victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Boosters were up by 22 points, 76-54, suddenly found themselves under siege after failing to make a field goal for the first seven minutes of the final period while Meralco unloaded a 17-point blast.
Chris Ross led the Bolts’ spirited fourth-quarter rally by pumping in 11 of his 12 points during that stretch to cut the Boosters' once-imposing lead to 88-86.
Ross missed a game-tying layup, but Meralco still managed to regain possession in the final 10 seconds after Petron import Renaldo Balkman lost the ball at the endline.
The Boosters though tightened up their defense with the game on the line, forcing rookie forward Vic Manuel to take a hurried three-point attempt that failed to hit the rim as time expired.
“It’s an ugly game for us, but I’ll take the win,” said a disappointed Petron coach Olsen Racela after the game. “Our goal when I took a look at our schedule is to go 3-1. We got to our goal, but like I said, this is an ugly win.
"Charge it to experience for me and for us as a team,” he added.
Petron looked headed to an easy win after dominating the game for the first three quarters. But Racela said his boys failed to execute well just as Meralco started to make a game of it.
In all, the Bolts outscored the Boosters, 32-12, in the final period.
“Yung sinasabi ko last time na this team has to go through adversity, well, a lot of lessons are learned (from this game). In the fourth quarter, we weren’t executing on offense and we weren’t playing defense. Ang sama ng depensa namin. They scored 32 points in the fourth (quarter),” said Racela.
Renaldo Balkman led the way with 26 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, while June Mar Fajardo added 16, 12 boards and three swats for the Boosters, who were without injured starting guard Alex Cabagnot.
Import Eric Dawson led the Bolts with 24 points, 20 rebounds and seven shot blocks in 46 minutes, but his effort failed to save Meralco from absorbing its third straight loss. The Bolts fell to 1-3 overall.
Petron 88 - Balkman 26, Fajardo 16, Miranda 11, Lassiter 9, Santos 6, Lanete 5, Yeo 5, Washington 5, Tubid 5, Pena 0
Meralco 86 - Dawson 24, Cardona 13, Ross 12, Hodge 10, Manuel 9, Guevarra 8, Hugnatan 5, Buenafe 3, Reyes 2, Timberlake 0, Artadi 0
Quarter scores: 22-17, 51-34, 76-54, 88-86