15 November 2010

Bolts 95, Express 93

Macmac Cardona
Macmac Cardona desperately struggled with shooting but came up huge in the clutch to power the Meralco Bolts to a pulsating 95-93 win against skidding Air21 Sunday night (14 November 2010) at the Araneta Coliseum.

Cardona, who didn't play in the Bolts' 83-71 upset victory against Alaska on 6 November 2010 because of an injury in his right heel, scored seven straight points inside 60 seconds to put Meralco ahead to stay, 94-91, with 23 seconds remaining.

Meralco's first successive victories in its young existent in the league shoved the Bolts into a tie with idle defending champion B-Meg Derby Ace for sixth and seventh places with their identical 4-5 [win-loss] records.

Meralco's leading scorer this conference, Cardona led all scorers with 23 points, 10 of them coming in the final period. Rookie Hans Thiele, a new acquisition from Barako Bull, added a career-high 16 on a 7 of 9 shooting from the field and had two blocks while Chris Ross had six assists for the Bolts.

"Every game is like a do-or-die game for us. It's nice to see our team coming along and winning close games against tough teams," said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio during the post-game interview.

The Express, who trailed through quarters, got into the groove in the fourth quarter and engaged the Bolts to two deadlocks and eight lead changes.

After Meralco center Marlou Aquino split his free throws to tie the count at 87-87, Air21 reserve forward Ronnie Matias supplanted starter Wesley Gonzales with 2:42 remaining.

Nineteen seconds later, the scrappy forward out of University of Manila made his present felt, drilling a 3-pointer that gave the Express a 90-87 lead. After Aquino missed a jumper in the lane in the next play, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, the No. 2 pick of the Annual Draft, made a free throw to make it a four-point game with 2:03 left to play, 91-87.

When it appeared Air21 was gaining momentum, Cardona regained his shooting touch. He scored an a floater in the lane, knocked in a 3-pointer then spun around Air21 shooting guard Ronjay Buenafe, completing the move with a fadeaway jumper that gave the Bolts a three-point lead.

"We're glad to have Macmac back for tonight's game. He has the ability to close game the right way and this was a testament," said Gregorio, three-timer Coach of the Year awardee by the PBA Press Corps.

Cardona, who also had seven assists, made just 10 of 23 attempts but went 4 of 8 in the fourth, going 2 of 4 from the 3-point range.

All seemed lost for Air21 when Buenafe misfired on a 3-point attempt with 18 seconds remaining. But an errant pass by Meralco forward Gabby Espinas led to an interception by Buenafe, who went on to complete the play and made the game exciting, 93-94, with 15.7 seconds left.

After a timeout by Meralco, Thiele split his free throws to make the count, 95-93, before RJ Quinahan's desperate 3-point heave rimmed out at the buzzer.

Al-Hussaini scored 20 points and Buenafe added 17 on a 7 of 18 shooting from the field for the Express, who fell to a 3-6 [w-l] record. (DBC)

No comments:

Post a Comment