08 June 2012

Bolts 83, B-Meg 88

Bolts versus B-Meg
MARCUS Blakely and Marc Pingris gave B-Meg some semblance of order at the crunch, resulting in a hard-earned 88-83 win over Meralco Wednesday (6 June 2012) in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Blakely scored eight of his game-high 31 points in the fourth period while Pingris accounted for the Llamados' last seven points that boosted them out of an 81-83 bind going into the last 2:31 of play.

Despite the win, his team's third straight in four games, B-Meg coach Tim Cone was far from being
content as his charges committed 21 turnovers that helped sour-shooting Meralco make a game of it.

"I'm happy we won, but I'm not pleased with our performance," said Cone. "We did not play a good game tonight," he added. "Still the guys hung in there and gave themselves a chance to win down the stretch. But we were sloppy, not giving much attention to detail."

For the 14-time champion coach, it is the consequence of his charges still not being able to get over their Commissioner's Cup title conquest.

"We have a team that's relaxing and not bringing it their all right now," stated Cone. "I'm truly disappointed. We can't play like this and expect to continue to win. We've got to be able to step it up. So far, we've hard a hard time grappling with our championship hangover."

Champ Oguchi had two chances to redeem himself, first by bailing the Bolts out of an 83-85 bind and to tie the game at 86. But each time the Nigerian-American missed clear looks from beyond the arc, capping a 0-for-10 three-point shooting night.

"Oguchi had open 3s and it's a good thing he misses those. It's pure tsamba," said Cone. "He's too good a shooter to leave open."

Oguchi wound up with just 12 points in what could prove to be the final game of the man who averaged 28.3 points in 11 games for Meralco in two conferences last year. His replacement, former Atlanta Hawk Mario West, was set to arrive later Friday evening.

In the meantime, Meralco could reflect on the other blown opportunities it had to avoid a third straight defeat and a 1-3 win-loss slate overall that relegated it at the bottom alongside sister team Talk ‘N Text.

Reynel Hugnatan also had the chance to tie it at 85 following Oguchi's miss, but the southpaw's right-handed baseline layup just nipped the side rim and Pingris collared the rebound that led to his split charities following Asi Taulava's foul.

Macmac Cardona snapped out of his recent two-game funk wherein he averaged just 5.0 points, by scoring a team-high 27 points, including 11 straight during a 13-4 surge that lifted Meralco from a 70-77 count.

After Pingris' short stab tied it up at 83 and off a Meralco timeout, Cardona himself became one of the goats when he lost the ball off a double-team anchored on Blakely, leading to two more Pingris charities that pushed B-Meg ahead to stay.

That crucial defensive play was one of the few times in the game that pleased Cone.

"It was a big defensive stop," noted Cone. "It goes to show, between him and Ping we've got guys who are shut-down defenders on this team."

Blakely also wound up with seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks while Pingris finished with 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds despite his dislocated left ring finger getting a hit early in the game.

James Yap chipped in 19 points and he also had three rebounds, three assists and as many blocks, all on Cardona in the game's early goings.

Chris Ross had a personal conference-high 18 points and Taulava added 11 points. But even those could not make up for Sol Mercado notching just eight points, 13 below his tournament average, and the entire Bolts team going 32-for-82 from the field, including a 1-for-19 three-point shooting.

Those put to waste Meralco's best defensive effort so far that saw it holding an opponent below 90 points for the first time in the conference, plus forcing B-Meg into committing its most turnovers in a game in the season-ender.

The Llamados went into game averaging just 15 miscues but already had 13 at the half, including seven in the second quarter that enabled the Bolts to trail by just 39-40 at the turn. (NC)

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