18 October 2012

Bolts 104, GlobalPort 105

Bolts vs GlobalPort
Meralco came out of its first game at the SM Mall of Asia Arena hurting in two fronts Wednesday (17 October 2012).

GlobalPort stunned the Bolts, 105-104, for its breakthrough win in the PBA Philippine Cup and compounded the latter's misery first felt when they found out their dugout was ransacked by thieves just before the halftime break.

GlobalPort head coach Glenn Capacio was seemingly unaware of the off-court happenings, just happy his charges finally crashed the win-column after three straight futile tries.

"I'm happy we won this," said the rookie coach. "Malaking bagay sa mga players ito kasi nga ang morale medyo down. Siguro mag-iiba na pakiramdam ng mga players going to our fifth game."

Willie Miller was mainly responsible for the win with a game-high 33 points, but rookies Jason Deutchman, Vic Manuel and AJ Mandani secured it by coming up with big plays down the stretch and capped the Batang Pier's comeback from as much as a 78-92 deficit.

Meralco was looking for a third straight win that would have given it solo second-running spot and the likes of Sol Mercado and Ronjay Buenafe stoked their bid with a 30-point output each.

Those still weren't enough.

Deutchman carried out Capacio's game plan hatched in a timeout to the letter with a triple, capping a new career-high 20-point performance and giving GlobalPort the upperhand, it turned out for good, at 100-99, 1:13 left.

Mercado and Macmac Cardona muffed their respective attempts, but the Bolts' offensive rebounding kept their hopes afloat, only to see Manuel swat away a Cliff Hodge shot underneath.

Mandani recovered the ball at almost halfcourt and sped up for a lay-up. He also converted a charity off a foul by Buenafe that made it a four-point game, only 17 ticks left.

Meralco had one last gasp through Buenafe's triple and, after Rabeh Al-Hussaini's two free throws, could have tied the game with still 4.5 ticks left.

By then, the Bolts were out of timeouts, leaving it to Mercado to receive the inbounds near halfcourt and go straight for an uncontested layup for the final count.

"I thought we were down by two," said Mercado, who also had eight assists and five steals and could have atoned for the sorry game of Cardona, who only had two points on 1-for-10 shooting but hauled down eight boards.

What happened at the Meralco dugout squeezed through the limelight, happening as it did in the PBA's first gig this season at the Pasay City venue.

The theft was discovered when Meralco went into the dugout staring at a 48-52 deficit.

According to Meralco officials, hardest hit were head coach Ryan Gregorio, assistant Ronnie Magsanoc, videographer Xavy Nunag and conditioning coach Mon Macatangay, whose wallets, cell phones and iPads were taken. The total loot was reported to be around PhP 200,000.

"It's indeed unfortunate," said PBA commissioner Chito Salud in a statement. "They just have to tighten their security measures and improve their response procedure. I am confident the MOA Arena management can immediately rectify their shortcomings, ensure the safety of the teams and the fans and indemnify in full the victims of today's theft and robbery."

Mercado, Cliff Hodge and Jayr Reyes seemed ready to lessen Meralco's hurt feelings by leading a third quarter surge that razed the deficit and even installed them on top 87-76, heading into the fourth period. (NC)

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