11 June 2012

Bolts 100, Aces 95

Bolts versus Aces
Meralco's new import has plenty of energy enough to spare, most especially to Asi Taulava.

Taulava 23 points and 12 rebounds, complementing Mario West's sterling debut, as the Bolts snapped out of a three-game slide with a 100-95 win over the Aces Sunday (10 June 2012) in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

West scored a game-high 33 points, dished off six assists and displayed some electrifying aerial skills that all prompted coach Ryan Gregorio to mainly credit the win to the man who came in as replacement for the one-dimensional Champ Oguchi.

"We addressed our problems, which was most obvious in our three-game downward spiral and that was our import," related Gregorio.

"In an import-laden conference, it is important to have an import who can contribute on both ends. West has the energy and his intensity rubbed off on other the players, especially Taulava."

West did not score in the fourth period, going 0-for-3 from the field before cramps on his left leg forced him out of the game with only 49 seconds left and Meralco ahead by just 98-95.

Good thing Alaska came up blank on its last three possessions, including a missed triple by LA Tenorio that led to a pair of charities by Reynel Hugnatan that iced it for Meralco, only 6.5 ticks remaining.

Taulava, 39, has not put up such numbers since last year's Philippine Cup, when he had 25 and 17. He, in turn, credited his rejuvenated play to Gregorio.

"Coach Ryan is making basketball easier for me," said Taulava, who shot 7-for-7 from the field and missed only four out of 13 free throw attempts.

"He makes me sit around the basket, then finish strong whenever there's an opportunity."

Jason Forte scored 24 points on top of 12 rebounds and also had three blocks, but could not prevent Alaska from absorbing a third straight loss that dropped it to the bottom of the standings with a 1-4 slate overall.

Meralco, meanwhile, improved to a 2-3 slate, just out of the top six which advance to the single-round, carryover semifinals.

Gregorio believes if his charges can sustain the energy then they have a chance of crashing the playoffs.

"Victories in our next four games will be enough," he stated. "We still have four games left (in the eliminations). If we can go on a streak, we still have a chance. For sure, as long as we keep working hard we will be rewarded."

Meralco was amply compensated by its hard work in a game in which it drew sub-par contributions from usual main men Macmac Cardona and Sol Mercado, who combined for only 15 points.

Cardona did drill in his second triple and former Ace Jay-R Reyes scored on a putback to give the Bolts an 87-77 spread, 10:18 left in the game.

Before he abruptly left the game, West had done enough. He scattered 11 points in the third period, including his second triple of the night. Taulava provided more than ample support with 10 before making way for Hugnatan, whose back-to-back baskets made it an 82-75 count.

West went 1-for-6 from the perimeter in the first half but had three mesmerizing dunks and a variety of strong moves to the basket that either netted him outright points or charity attempts from which he sank seven of nine.

All those, plus rookie Gilbert Bulawan sinking his first four jumpers, led to Meralco charging back from a 31-43 deficit and taking the half, 55-50. (NC)

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