MERALCO import Mario West came through with another superlative performance as the Bolts held off Alaska’s late rally for an 84-74 win in the PBA Governors Cup on Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
West, in his second tour of duty with the Meralco franchise, pumped in 20 of his 32 points in the third period where he outscored the entire Aces team by one to help the Bolts build a sizeable lead.
The energetic Meralco import was tireless inside the court during that stretch, driving strong to the basket, dunking, collaring rebounds and defending well in his 36-minute stint in the game.
“Mario is an incredible warrior. He's towing us now, even though we’re not yet complete in terms of roster power,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio after the game.
The Aces, who trailed by as many as 16 points midway in the final period, closed in at 71-77 on Calvin Abueva’s triple with 1:19 to play, but the Bolts managed to keep their composure to seal their third win in five starts.
The victory vaulted the Bolts to a share of second place with idle Rain or Shine and Barako Bull, which dropped an embarrassing 87-112 blowout loss to league-leader Petron Blaze during the first game.
Gregorio said playing Alaska in the team's third game in a span of one week worked well for the Bolts.
“It was good timing for us to play them (Aces). They played their third game in seven days, so it was imperative for us to try to find ways to outhustle them and just find ways defensively,” he added.
The Bolts put the clamps on Alaska’s bruising import Wendell McKines, who was held to just 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
The wide-bodied McKines only scored a point in the entire second half as he was hounded by Meralco’s frontline combination of Jay-R Reyes, Reynel Hugnatan and Fil-Am rookie Cliff Hodge.
JV Casio added 12 points for the aces before fouling out late in the game, while center Sonny Thoss, who also went into early foul trouble, added 10.
The Aces dropped to an even 2-2 record, in a tie Globalport and Talk ‘N Text in lower bracket of the standings.
Meralco 84 - West 32, Wilson 15, Hugnatan 12, Cardona 9, Guevarra 7, Hodge 6, Reyes 2, Ross 1, Timberlake 0, Artadi 0, Salvacion 0.
Alaska 74 - McKines 13, CAsio 12, Thoss 10, Baguio 10, Abueva 9, Hontiveros 9, Espinas 4, Dela Cruz 4, Jazul 3, Ramos 0, Eman 0, Belasco 0.
Quarters: 14-19, 32-30, 62-49, 84-74