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PBA: Bolts outduel Aces

Calvin Abueva and Cliff Hodge

by Waylon Galvez

Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30 p.m. – San Mig Coffee vs Air21
5:45 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Rain or Shine

Manila, Philippines – With two teams fighting for survival, Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio warned his players to be ready to go to war against Alaska, and even when they’re bloodied, they just have to move on.

True enough, Jared Dillinger had a bloodied nose courtesy of Calvin Abueva but somehow just shook it off and kept his composure as the Bolts handed the Aces a 74-65 beating in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Gary David scored 24 points, including 17 in the second half, while Dillinger had another solid outing with 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two shot blocks for Meralco.

However, aside from the bloodied nose, the heavily-bearded Dillinger also sustained a small bruise under his left eye when Abueva hit him after his shot was blocked and both men went down at the baseline railing with 10:11 remaining in the fourth quarter with Meralco up, 65-52.

After hitting Dillinger in the face, video replays showed that Abueva again hit the former that appeared to have bloodied his nose with his right arm. He retaliated as he confronted the Alaska sophomore, nearly choking him. Dillinger and Abueva were then separated by their teammates.

The referees only assessed the two with a technical foul for second motion.

“I told them to be ready for war, it’s not gonna be easy,” said the Meralco mentor Gregorio, who himself had a verbal altercation at the sidelines with his Alaska counterpart Luigi Trillo.

“They’re also fighting for survival. If you go to war, you’ll be bloodied. But seeing Jared wipe off the blood on his nose was an incredible signal (to the team) to finish it off,” added Gregorio, who also took a swipe on Abueva’s flopping on the said play with Dillenger and hopes that the PBA Commissioner’s office will look into it.

With the victory, Meralco improved its record to 5-7, tying Barako Bull to fifth and sixth places while pushing Alaska to the ninth slot with a 4-8 card. Only the top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinal playoffs.

The win also avenged the Bolts’ loss to the Aces in their first meeting this conference, where Alaska scored a 91-82 triumph last Dec. 18 as Dondon Hontiveros fired a game-high 24 points, while Cyrus Baguio and Sonny Thoss added 24 and 23 points, respectively.

This time, Hontiveros was held to just a single point, Baguio had seven points and Thoss finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. JVee Casio led Alaska with 15 points.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine tries to solidify its bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs as it battles defending three-time champion Talk ‘N Text today at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Elasto Painters, who are carrying an 8-3 record, are also eyeing to end a nine-game Philippine Cup losing skid against the Tropang Texters in the second game of the Petron Saturday Special at 5:45 p.m.

San Mig Coffee and Air21 meet at 3:30 p.m. in a crucial battle in hopes of getting the upperhand in the race for at least the final playoff berth.

The scores:
First game:
MERALCO 74 – David 24, Dillinger 10, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 9, Salvacion 8, Wilson 7, Artadi 4, Ildefonso 2, Al-Hussaini 0, Guevarra 0.

ALASKA 65 – Casio 15, Thoss 14, Espinas 13, Baguio 7, Abueva 6, Ramos 5, Dela Cruz 2, Jazul 2, Hontiveros 1, Exciminiano 0, Eman 0.

Quarters: 24-17, 40-32, 65-51, 74-65

Second game:
PETRON 98 – Santos 25, Lassiter 16, Lutz 13, Fajardo 12, Kramer 11, Cabagnot 10, Tubid 7, Deutchman 2, Ross 2, Lanete 0.

GLOBALPORT 87 – Belencion 21, Mercado 16, Nabong 15, Chua 9, Salvador 8, Garcia 8, Romeo 4, Menk 2, Salva 2, Najorda 1, Hayes 1, Washington 0.

Quarters: 20-22, 39-51, 68-68, 98-87