SOL Mercado admitted he was inspired by Joe Devance’s brave performance in the third quarter of Game Six that enabled him to put up his own stellar showing in Ginebra’s 91-67 win over Star on Sunday night
After the birthday-boy Devance, who was nursing a foot injury and had to take pain-killing injections moments before tipoff, poured in all his 14 points in a third-quarter turnaround, Mercado took over in the payoff period, where he scored 12 of his 21 markers.
“He had my juices flowing,” Mercado said after the game, referring to his best buddy, Devance.
That’s what best friends are certainly for as the duo conspired with Jervy Cruz and LA Tenorio in sending their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series to a deciding game.
Mercado was on target as he made all but two of his 10 shots overall and finished the game with five boards, four assists, two steals, and one block in 36 minutes.
“I always try to be a little more aggressive in the fourth,” Mercado said. “And my shot was falling and I was able to get to the basket a few times, get to the line, and my teammates were finding me.”
Mercado also pointed to the Gin Kings’ defense that proved a major factor as they limited the Hotshots to a dismal 31-percent shooting (26-of-85) and forced them to 17 turnovers.
“Credit to our team defense again. That’s been the story of the series,” Mercado said. “Whoever’s defense does better usually wins the game, so that’s what it comes down to, so we got to try and duplicate that or even better in Game Seven.”
Whether it’s Devance or Mercado or whoever, the Gin Kings welcome anyone who rises to the occasion in the deciding game on Tuesday night.
“Come Game Seven, we got to lay it all on the line,” Mercado said. “Who knows who’s going to step up? But everybody has to try and step up and bring our A-game.”