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PBA: Meralco routs Air21

Jared Dillinger and Vic Manuelby Tito S. Talao

Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Alaska vs Talk ‘N Text
8 p.m. – Globalport vs Barangay Ginebra

By the end of three quarters, the Meralco Bolts had four players in double figures. Around the same time, Air21 had four of its starters toiling at 4 points or less.

The disparity couldn’t be more pronounced.

John Wilson went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the second quarter when the Bolts broke away, Sunday Salvacion 2 for 2 and Rey Guevarra 1 for 1 – a completed 4-point play – as Meralco crushed the Air21 Express, 112-79, last night for its first win in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Air21, which enjoyed two deadlocks and four leadchanges before the lights went out, fell to 0-3 in its franchise-worst 33-point loss.

Hitting 6-of-7 triples, the Bolts outscored the Express, 38-21, in the second period on the way to their biggest winning margin in franchise history. (Meralco beat this same team, then known as Shopinas.Com, 106-77, in the 2012 Governors’ Cup.)

Wilson, the 2009 NCAA most valuable player from Jose Rizal University, went on to make it a perfect 6 for 6 from beyond the 3-point arc in posting a career-high 26. That tied an all-time record for most triples in a game without a miss after Simon Atkins, Renren Ritualo, Dondon Hontiveros, Vic Pablo and Glen Capacio.

“Natatapat lang siguro kasi maganda yung shot selection ko,” said Wilson, whose first triple was a dying-second trey from top of the key. “Di sadya, nakita ko lang na wala ng oras.”

A newly-installed offensive system, said Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio, accounted for their franchise best 13 triples (out of 26) which complemented their 52 percent 2-point shooting.

“I’m happy with our level of accuracy in this game,” said Gregorio. “We’ve introduced a new system and we know it’s just a matter of time, if we chew on it and embrace it, that we’ll get good looks and open shots.”

A critical byproduct of Meralco’s precision shooting is its 27 assists (to Air21’s 19).

“They’ve heeded the advice that there’s nothing better than to give up a good shot for a better one by an open teammate,” said Gregorio.

A 3-pointer by Salvacion, who went 4 of 9, shattered a 24-all tie and triggered the avalanche which buried the Express.

Yeo had 10 points after three quarters and only he and Ritualo were in double figures the rest of the game for Air21.

In the main offering, Petron downed San Mig Coffee, 91-78, to keep stay unbeaten in the team standings.

The scores:
First game:
Meralco 112 – Wilson 26, Salvacion 15, Hugnatan 15, Dillinger 13, Al-Hussaini 11, Cortez 8, David 7, Caram 6, Guevarra 6, Omolon 4, Allado 1, Sena 0.

Air 21 79 – Ritualo 12, Yeo 10, Menor 8, Sharma 8, Atkins 8, Manuel 8, Custodio 7, Taulava 6, Canaleta 3, Jaime 2, Burtscher 2, Arboleda 2, Camson 2, Espiritu 1.

Quarters: 16-15, 54-36, 86-55, 112-79

Second game:
Petron 91 – Fajardo 21, Santos 17, Lassiter 15, Lutz 14, Hubalde 9, Lanete 7, Duncil 4, Kramer 4, Deutchman 0.

San Mig 78 – Barroca 20, Pingris 16, Cawaling 15, Sangalang 12, Yap 5, Mallari 4, Reavis 4, Holstein 2, De Ocampo 0, Acuna 0.

Quarters: 17-22, 44-34, 67-59, 91-78