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PBA: Meralco raps NLEX

NLEX’s Mac Cardona loses the ball as he tries to outmaneuver Meralco’s Gary David (right) during their PBA Philippine Cup game last night which the Bolts won, 90-75, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (Tony Pionilla)

Games Tomorrow
(Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Barako Bull
7 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Kia Motors

Manila, Philippines – Cast in darkness by the Alaska Aces five days ago, the Meralco Bolts have found their way back to the light.

After getting blown out by 41 points, the Bolts were dazzling from the start last night, sending the NLEX Road Warriors into a tailspin with a heavy dose of megawatt power, 90-75, and grabbing a share of second place in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

At 3-1, the Bolts earned some degree of redemption in tying the Barangay Ginebra Kings and the loser of the San Miguel Beer-Alaska leadership battle which was ongoing at presstime.

NLEX, conqueror of the Kings a week before, was unable to muster the energy with which they razed Barangay Ginebra, 97-81, getting buried by 30 points in the third quarter before coming up with a revival of sort in cutting the deficit to nine points in the last four minutes.

The Road Warriors fell to 2-2 in the company of Talk ’N Text, Rain or Shine and Globalport, a notch above the pre-season consensus team-to-beat Purefoods Star.

Norman Black, the Bolts coach, continued to grope for answers on what hit them in their previous game.

“I can’t really explain why we lost that badly except that Alaska played well and we played terrible,” said Black. “But we tried to keep things positive despite the fact that everything around us was negative. We just focused on this game.”

So intent and driven were the Bolts that they kept building momentum from the first six minutes where the opened an 18-4 lead to the time where the advantage ballooned to 69-39, with the Road Warriors desperately looking for detours but only found dead ends.

Asi Taulava, Mark Cardona and KG Canaleta combined for 20 points in the fourth quarter to bring Meralco’s lead down to 10. But sophomore guard Anjo Caram, the former San Beda Red Lion, scored on a breakaway layup with two minutes remaining to thwart NLEX’s final rally.

“Our veterans stepped up. We bounced back and did a better job against the pressure defense,” said Black. “Our team is a work in progress. It’s gonna be hard work and dedication for us this conference to be able to attain success this time around.”

Gary David led the Bolts with 23 points with three 3-pointers while Jared Dillinger shot 7 of 8 from within the arc for 17 points.

First game:
MERALCO 90 – David 23, Dillinger 17, Cortez 10, Caram 9, Anthony 7, Hugnatan 7, Macapagal 5, Hodge 4, Buenafe 4, Sena 4, Ferriols 0, Ildefonso 0, Guevarra 0, Atkins 0.

NLEX 75 – Taulava 24, Cardona 14, Baloria 14, Canaleta 9, Ramos 6, Villanueva E. 3, Apinan 3, Camson 2, Raymundo 0, Villanueva J. 0, Borboran 0, Arboleda W. 0, Arboleda H. 0, Poligrates 0.

Quarterscores: 25-11, 52-29, 71-51, 90-75

Second game:
ALASKA 66 – Baguio 13, Casio 11, Thoss 9, Eman 8, Manuel 8, Abueva 5, Jazul 4, Banchero 3, Hontiveros 3, Exciminiano 2, Dela Cruz 0, Bugia 0, Dela Rosa 0, Vanlandingham 0.

SAN MIGUEL 63 – Slantos 14, Lutz 13, Fajardo 10, Mercado 7, Tubid 6, Ross 5, Semerad 4, Lassiter 4, Pascual 0, Hubalde 0, Omolon 0, Chua 0.

Quarterscores: 19-19, 30-38, 50-52, 66-63