01 April 2011

Bolts 101, Air21 110

Bolts vs Air21
Behind a mighty windup, Air21 topped Meralco, 110-101, Wednesday (30 March 2011) to catch up with Rain or Shine at sixth place with four play dates left in the PBA Commissioner's Cup elimination phase.

The Express broke away at the finish and scored their first back-to-back wins that boosted their chance to make the playoffs.

The Bolts practically kissed their own playoff hopes goodbye with a sixth loss against only two wins.

A win by Rain or Shine over Alaska Milk Friday at the Araneta Coliseum will render non-bearing the Meralco-Smart Gilas match in Tacloban, Leyte Saturday.

"The guys wanted to win to stay alive. We got our first back-to-back wins, and credit goes to the players," said Air21 coach Bong Ramos.

"We kept alive our playoff hopes, and it's up to the players to nurture it. We can’t rely on the other teams losing their games," Ramos also said.

The two teams were engaged in a neck-and-neck battle when the Express unleashed a 16-to-nothing run to open a 108-96 lead in the homestretch.

Alpha Bangura and Dondon Hontiveros combined for 45 points and themselves starred in Air21’s closing romp carrying the team to a follow-up win on its 94-92 decision over Rain or Shine a week ago.

Bangura and Hontiveros banged in seven points each in the payoff period.

Bangura finished with 25 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals while Hontiveros wound up with 20 points, four assists, two rebounds and the same number of steals.

Danny Seigle also had a solid performance with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and one assist in 36 minutes of action.

Meralco import Champ Oguchi exploded for 39 points but himself threw bricks at crunch time.

"We couldn't contain Oguchi. It's just hard to contain that guy. Mukhang napagod lang noong huli," said Ramos.

The Bolts were still ahead at 96-92 when they went scoreless in a crucial three-minute span at the finish.

The Express had got a 12-point lead at 108-96 when the Bolts broke their silence with Oguchi scoring on a layup with time down to 35 seconds.

Air21 outhustled and outmaneuvered Meralco in taking the first half at 59-53,

The Express beat the Bolts, 15-6, on points off turnovers and, 10-4, on fast breaks in the first 24 minutes of play.

The Bolts actually had a better shooting but committed 14 errors as against the Express' five. (SB)

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