Games Today (Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Blackwater vs San Miguel
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Purefoods
Behind by 13 early in the fourth quarter and their unbeaten slate all but wiped out, the Meralco Bolts needed a quick jolt to get things going.
A revved-up Josh Davis gave it to them – with some help from the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Davis, the reinforcement Meralco settled for after losing Michael Dunigan to another team, unloaded 15 of his 31 points in the last 12 minutes as the Bolts sprung back to life, edging the Elasto Painters, 92-87, and seizing solo leadership in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Josh Davis is a good player; so is Michael Dunigan. But I have no complaints with Josh, that’s for sure,” said Bolts coach Norman Black, beaten to his original import of choice by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
At 4-0, the Bolts are on top of the leader board, with their choice of Davis as a replacement import turning to be a stroke of genius and the biggest recruiting coup of the season.
Notorious for his bad perimeter and free throw shooting, Davis, whose line drive charities now traverse a narrow arc, went 13 of 15 from the line with 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and 1 turnover in 45:07 minutes.
Though his 15-footers continued to veer either left or right of its target, he proved unstoppable going to his left on the drive as he went 9 of 16 overall from the field, inviting contact in midair for separation and releasing a sweeping semi-hook off the glass at the top of his jump.
He had 6 points during a 17-2 run where Bolts playmaker Mike Cortez scored 7 of his 13 points as Meralco rallied from 76-63 to take the lead, 80-78, seven minutes remaining.
Strangely, all five of Rain or Shine’s top scorers – import Rick Jackson, Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, Ryan Arana and Gabe Norwood – were on the bench when Meralco came charging back. And although the E-Painters tied the score twice after losing the advantage, the Bolts rode the momentum of their electrifying surge, with Sean Anthony and Davis hitting free throws in the end.
Rain or Shine, again shunning timeouts during an opponent’s run, saw a two-game-winning streak snapped in falling to solo fifth with a 2-2 slate.
Jackson had 22 points and 18 rebounds but seemed lost upon his return halfway through the fourth. He had 4 points the rest of the final period and Norwood 3, with Lee, Chan and Arana all scoreless down the stretch.
ROS gave up 20 points from 15 turnovers (Meralco yielded 2 points from 9 errors) and was beaten in fast breaks, 16-2.
“Our strong finish made the difference,” said Black. “We had a difficult time in the first half against their post offense and in guarding Jackson. But we made adjustments defensively in the second and credit goes to Josh Davis for coming up with a big offensive night.”A TY Tang jumper tied the game, 80-all, but Davis scored 5 straight points to make it a 5-point Meralco lead. Norwood leveled the count for the last time, 87-all, with a 3-pointer, 2:15 to go, but the Bolts connected from the foul line as Lee missed 2 treys and Jackson from inside.
MERALCO 92 – Davis 31, Cortez 13, David 11, Hodge 10, Anthony 8, Wilson 7, Dillinger 6, Hugnatan 4, Ferriols 2, Reyes 0, Atkins 0, Ildefonso 0, Buenafe 0, Sena 0, Macapagal 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 87 – Jackson 22, Lee 12, Chan 11, Arana 10, Norwood 9, Tang 7, Uyloan 4, Almazan 4, Quinahan 3, Ibanes 2, Cruz 2, Belga 1, Teng 0, Tiu 0.
Quarters: 22-27, 41-47, 62-73, 92-87
GLOBALPORT 95 – Leslie 30, Romeo 25, Pringle 12, Isip 6, Buenafe 5, Jensen 5, Semerad 4, Ponferrada 4, Nabong 4, Miranda 0, Taha 0, Caperal 0, Pinto 0, Baclao 0.
ALASKA 73 – Covington 25, Hontiveros 11, Dela Cruz 7, Baguio 6, Espinas 6, Jazul 5, Exciminiano 4, Menk 4, Dela Rosa 3, Eman 2, Banchero 0, Vanlandingham 0.
Quarterscores: 18-27, 44-35, 66-54, 95-73