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PBA: Meralco sizzles

Brian Heruela of Blackwater drives past Mike Cortes and John Ferriols of Meralco in this bit of action in the first quarter of the PBA at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, May 29, 2015. PHOTO BY ERNIE U. SARMIENTO

Game Today (Petron Saturday Special, AUF gym, Angeles City)
5 p.m. – Kia vs Star

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta)
3 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Barako Bull
5:15 p.m. – San Miguel vs Ginebra

Meralco coach Norman Black’s parting words as he stepped out of the press room last night were: “We lived to fight another day.”

That would be on June 2 when the Bolts take on the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and Black’s prophecy of a “fight” should come true.

There was, however, no more than a token challenge from the Blackwater Elite, with the Bolts overcoming a 12-point second quarter deficit and running away with an 87-72 victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Coliseum.

The Bolts leveled with a 3-3 win-loss card, right in the middle of the field, while the Elite, who are set to lose import Marcus Douthit next week when the Southeast Asian Games commences in Singapore, fell to 1-5 and are now almost assured of claiming the No. 1 pick in the August Rookie Draft.

Douthit’s mind must have already been preoccupied with the SEA Games where he will reinforce the Philippine team that will defend its long reign in the regional meet. He had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 free throw in 32:57 and was pulled out with 4 minutes remaining after Seiya Ando, the Bolts’ Japanese import, hit a pick ‘n roll jumper in front of him and drove past in the next play.

Andre Emmett led Meralco with 17 and 12 rebounds while Gary David added 16 with 2 3-pointers, pouring 9 points in the third quarter when Meralco completed a comeback from 24-12 to enter the fourth quarter with a 63-56 lead.

Meralco dominated the paint, 20-10, despite having to deal with the 7-foot Douthit and in the absence of a big man taller than 6-foot-5 veteran Danny Ildefonso. Blackwater surrendered the rebounds, 54-51.

“We don’t have anybody to erase mistakes defensively so we have to play as a team,” said Black. “We have a much better balance today offensively. We lacked energy and spunk at the beginning and we let Blackwater jumped over us, but we had a very good effort in the second half.”

Black paid tribute to his “all-Filipino crew” and made special mention of 6-foot-3 Sean Anthony for “doing a good job guarding Douthit.” The former LA Laker, who had a memorable battle with Kia’s Senegalese import Hamadi N’Diaye in their last game, had 6 points in the first quarter against the Bolts and 4 in the final period.

Asked about the prospect of making it back-to-back at the expense of Talk ‘N Text, Black said they would need even more consistency and focus to get the job done.

“It’ll be a tough game, but who knows? The ball is round,” said Black, who coached the Tropang Texters for several seasons before Jong Uichico took over at the start of the season and led TNT to the Commissioner’s Cup championship.

Meanwhile, PBA commissioner Chito Salud fined Barako Bull forward Rico Maierhofer a whopping P20,000 for using his shoe, which came off during the play, to deny a shot by Alaska’s Gabby Espinas in their game last Wednesday.

While the rare act appeared comical, even harmless, with the referees unsure of what to make of it and letting it go, Salud deemed otherwise and handed down the stiff sanction for the “blatant misconduct that disrespects/mocks the game and (which is) unprofessional in nature.”

A similar incident in the NBA two years ago where the Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol actually used his shoe to swing at a Utah Jazz player drew a foul “and lusty boos” from the crowd but got no fines from the NBA.

MERALCO 87 – Emmett 17, David 16, Dillinger 12, Ando 12, Anthony 10, Nabong 8, Hodge 6, Atkins 2, Ildefonso 2, Ferriols 2.

BLACKWATER 72 – Douthit 15, Heruela 12, Gamalinda 8, Laure 8, Erram 7, Acuna 6, Cervantes 5, Bulawan 4, Reyes 3, Salvacion 3, Golla 1, Timberlake 0.

Quarters: 12-22, 34-39, 63-56, 87-72

Second Game:
GLOBALPORT 123 – Famous 27, Pringle 23, Romeo 20, Krayem 14, Kramer 10, Buenafe 9, Jensen 9, Semerad 7, Hayes 4, Mamaril 0.

TALK N’ TEXT 120 – Pettigrew 35, Castro 34, Daghles 19, De Ocampo 10, Fonacier 7, Carey 6, Williams 4, Washington 3, Rosser 2, Seigle 0.

Quarters: 27-24, 58-54, 99-91, 123-120