19 March 2011

Bolts 89, BMeg 86

Meralco's Champ Oguchi
Meralco nailed its first win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup in style Friday (18 March 2011), topping B-MEG Derby Ace, 89-86, with a stirring come-from-behind effort.

Champ Oguchi banged away four of his seven triples in the homestretch, keying the Bolts' searing rally from 10 points down in the last four minutes of play.

Oguchi stunned just about everybody at the Cuneta Astrodome when he buried his final trey, pushing the Bolts ahead at 87-86 with time down to 26 seconds.

Kerby Raymundo missed a turnaround shot in the ensuing play, and the Bolts went on to complete the mind-boggling victory with Macmac Cardona sinking two free throws to make it 89-86.

"The monkey’s off my back on a personal level, and I'm so happy to prevail despite the fact that I thought it's a loss cause already," said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

"We’re a work in progress in terms of cohesion but, in tonight’s game, we just didn’t give up," said Gregorio added.

The Bolts broke into the win-column halfway through the elimination round.

"Pwede pang pumasok. For as long as we still have games to play, we’ll be there fighting," said Gregorio.

The Llamados slid to joint sixth with the Powerade Tigers at 2-4 with their first ever loss to the Bolts. Before the game, Derby Ace was one of three teams (the other being San Miguel Beer and Talk n Text) Meralco had not beaten since taking over the Sta. Lucia franchise.

James Yap, the Derby Ace star who averages 20.4 points a game, missed the game due to a calf injury.

Nonetheless, the Llamados put up a sterling game and had looked on the way to victory when they opened a 10-point spread at 83-73.

But Oguchi won't give up.

What he failed to complete in his debut with Meralco versus Talk n Text he did in this game, lifting the Bolts to the breakthrough win.

He tallied a season-high 43 points in a losing cause against the Tropang Texters Friday.

Oguchi came through with 29 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one steal in his second outing in the local pro league.

Asi Taulava got away with his best game in the tourney so far, backing Oguchi up with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Sol Mercado and Cardona chipped in 13 points apiece while also combining for 13 rebounds and seven assists.

KG Canaleta scored 10 of his 12 points in the final quarter, leading the Llamados in their key assault. He had three straight triples, highlighting the initial attack giving Derby Ace a 77-68 lead.

But like the other Llamados, Canaleta’s shooting cooled down in the homestretch.

The Bolts cashed in heavily on the board work of their frontcourt as they took the half at 38-37.

Largely behind Taulava and Gabby Espinas, Meralco outrebounded Derby Ace, 32-23, and beat the Llamados by 11, 15-4, on second-chance points in the first 24 minutes of play.

The Llamados, however, kept the game close through the exploits of their backcourt.

Peter June Simon led the Llamados’ bid in the first quarter with seven points then Pong Escobal took over in the second canto, making eight on two-of-two three-point shooting and 2-of-2 free throws. (SB)

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