16 December 2010

Bolts 125, Painters 124

Bolts vs Painters
Newcomer Meralco dished out a character game, outlasting Rain or Shine in a gripping double-overtime duel to land fifth at the close of the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round at the Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night (15 December 2010).

Macmac Cardona scored on a semi-hook off three defenders with 4.7 seconds to go as the B-Boys squeezed out a 125-124 win that lined them up for a best-of-three quarterfinals showdown with the B-MEG Derby Ace Llamados.

Alaska Milk tangles with Barangay Ginebra in the other best-of-three quarters matchup.

Top seed Talk n Text and second seed San Miguel Beer, with twice-to-beat advantage, take a shot at the semifinals versus Rain or Shine and Air21, respectively.

The playoffs begin Friday in the same venue with Meralco and Derby Ace playing at 5:00 P.M. then Alaska and Ginebra squaring off at 7:30 p.m.

"We displayed character out there. We played the way it should be played. We played with great integrity," said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

"We knew all along that we can lose by nine and still make the Top Six. But as I've been telling the boys every time we go out and play, we should play to win," Gregorio added.

The youthful mentor expressed confidence they can compete and have a good run in the playoffs.

"We landed at fifth and it's an incredible feat for a new franchise. But we're not done yet. We're pressing forward and hopefully make the Promised Land," he said.

Meralc's Cardona and Chris Ross and Rain or Shine's Gabe Norwood played at least 51 minutes each in the first triple-overtime game in the league in four years.

It’s ninth overall in league history marked by the ouster on fouls by no less than five players in Gabby Espinas, Nelbert Omolon, Asi Taulava, Beau Belga and Doug Kramer.

Cardona led all scorers with 35 points while Ross, tying the fourth all-time longest playing minutes in a game with 56, came through with career highs 11 assists and seven steals that went with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Sol Mercado paced the Elasto Painters with 31 points, including four triples.

The match eventually came to an end with Meralco triumphant as Mercado missed a top-of-the-key three-point try at the buzzer.

Ross went coast to coast for a layup forcing the first overtime play at 107-all.

The Elasto Painters led by eight, 94-86, on a triple by Josh Vanlandingham but the B-Boys charged back and surged upfront at 103-102 with time down to 1:14.

The game went into second overtime as Hans Thiele tied the count at 115-all on a short stab then no team scored a basket in the last 34.8 seconds.

Larry Rodriguez got a crucial offensive board and powered his way for a twinner, sending the game into third OT at 118-all.

Cardona buckled down to work early, getting Meralco to a strong start as he made 16 points in the opening canto.

Omolon also came out firing, chipping in eight as the B-Boys carried a 34-25 cushion into the second period.

The Elasto Pointers pulled themselves together in the second quarter as they cut down the deficit to six, 48-54, at the turn. (SB)

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