01 April 2012

Bolts 103, B-MEG 81

Bolts vs B-Meg
Personally challenged by their top boss in practice Saturday, the Meralco Bolts didn't disappoint
in the game Sunday (2 April 2012).

"I'll be in the dugout after the game," Meralco owner Manny V. Pangilinan told the Bolts.

Taking it rightly as Pangilinan's marching order, the Bolts fought with great resolve throughout as they blasted the B-Meg Llamados, 103-81, in the opener of their PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-three quarterfinal showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"Essentially, we played basketball with a big emphasis on defense from opening the tip till the end. We played hard and we’re just so focused," said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

The Bolts did play tough defense especially in the crunch, limiting the Llamados to four points in the last eight minutes of the game.

Offensively, Earl Barron and Mark Cardona showed the way as the Bolts led from start to finish, winning their first-ever post-elim game in lopsided fashion.

"This is a first playoff win for us in five conferences. It's an enormous breakthrough for this franchise," said Gregorio.

"But we know that a best-of-three isn't win by one game. After taking a shower, we'll focus again for Wednesday," Gregorio added.

The Bolts go for the clincher in Game Two set at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in the same venue.

Meralco hardly gave B-Meg a chance in Game One, coming out smoking and opening a huge 23-point spread right in the first half.

B-Meg actually waged a chase in the second half but the Bolts made a key move before the Llamados could turn the tide.

As the Llamados closed in at 77-80, Cardona spearheaded a spirited 18-to-nothing run to scuttle B-Meg's bid.

The Llamados missed five attempts, committed three errors and coach Tim Cone incurred two technical fouls as the Bolts unleashed their decisive assault.

Barron led all scorers with 34 points with Cardona adding 22, taunting the crowd each time he made a big shot.

Asi Taulava also played big, churning out double-double numbers with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

"It turned out a blessing in disguise that I didn't use that much Asi early in the tourney. He's got a lot of gas," said Gregorio. "He's incredible because he's not just helping on defense but scoring and rebounding in double figures."

Taulava had a big hand defensively as the Bolts held Denzel Bowles down to 18 points and seven rebounds.

Going down the drain was James Yap's first 20-point outing in the conference. (SB)

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