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PBA: Bolts down Aces

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Air21
8 p.m. – San Miguel vs Talk ‘N Text

Manila, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts import wasn’t exactly Butch Cassidy, but he did come out blazing last night.

All 6-foot-11 of him, Brian Butch, built like Dirk Nowitzki and bearing some of the Dallas Maverick’s moves and touch, poured 27 points, including 6 three-point shots, as the Bolts cut down the Alaska Aces, 85-76, for their first win in the PLDT myDSL PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“This is welcome development after that bad game against San Miguel,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, referring to the 94-76 clobbering dealt them by the Beermen last Friday.

Butch, an NBA D-League Impact Player awardee, debuted with 29 points and 21 rebounds that evening and so impressed Gregorio that he brushed aside suggestions that Meralco might need to bring in a new reinforcement.

“The import is not an issue,” said Gregorio, whose faith was rewarded as Butch poured 18 of his output in the second half when the Aces made their strongest stand. He also grabbed 17 rebounds with two assists, two steals and two blocks in 42 minutes while fending off hard fouls thrown his way.

Gregorio took exception to some of the hits Butch received.

“Some of the physicality was meant to hurt and has no place in the game,” said the Bolts coach, who had urged his import to “keep your composure and emotions intact.”

Butch had furious exchanges with a number of Alaska players, including Gabby Espinas, Vic Manuel and Calvin Abueva who picked up his sixth foul off Butch late in the fourth quarter with the Bolts wrapping up the game.

“We did a good job of competing despite our obvious lack of arsenal because of our injured players,” said Gregorio. “And we did it with defense.”

The Bolts may have lost starting point guard Mike Cortez for the conference with a torn ligament in his right knee while Jared Dillinger is still in the hospital due to bacterial infection.

Butch had his Sundance Kid in Gary David against San Miguel Beer, with the streak-shooting guard adding 20 points. This time it was Reynel Hugnatan who low-posted for 14 points while David added 12 along with Cliff Hodge.