12 November 2012

Bolts 95, Boosters 81

Bolts's Mercado
Meralco's resilience was tested and it passed with flying colors.

Petron Blaze tried to show the same, but Lady Luck preferred to frown on it.

As a result, the Bolts fashioned a 95-81 victory over the Boosters Sunday (11 November 2012) to move closer to a coveted slot in the PBA Philippine Cup at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Sol Mercado and Reynel Hugnatan alternated in spearheading Meralco's attack before Macmac Cardona took over in the stretch and pointed them to the rebound from a numbing 81-106 defeat to Rain or Shine the Sunday before.

The win, Meralco's fifth in eight games, kept it solidly at fourth and just one game off the two squads tied at No. 2, which, along with the top team after the 14-game eliminations, enjoys a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

"We really wanted to test our bounce-back genes by playing hard on both ends of the court and we did," said Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio.

"Versus Rain or Shine complacency was our enemy," he added. "Today from the opening tip our offense was clicking, hitting on all cylinders through to the end."

Not quite.

Despite losing another big man as early as late in the third quarter Petron waged a gallant uprising that trimmed what was once a 49-69 deficit to just 70-80, still 4:40 to go.

Then Cardona strung up five straight of his 10 fourth quarter points and Cliff Hodge translated his block on Chris Lutz with a two-handed slam that effectively quashed the threat.

"We were celebrating early and they were still trying to attack," explained Gregorio of the near-meltdown. "You can't let your guard down with still minutes to play in this league."

The loss was the third straight and sixth in nine games for Petron, dropping it to a share of ninth with idle Barako Bull.

Already playing minus injured centers June Mar Fajardo, Danny Ildefonso and Dorian Pena, the Boosters' chances were further dimmed when Jay Washington sat out the rest of the game after being kneed by a driving Hodge on his upper left thigh, still 3:12 to go in the third period.

"I was already wearing a pad, but I got hit up here," related Washington, pointing to the part wrapped in ice.

Initial diagnosis on Washington's injury is it was simply a bruise and he himself vowed to suit up against Rain or Shine on Wednesday. "I will play," he said.

Mercado and Hugnatan each wound up with 22 points with Cardona nearly came up with his first career triple double to the tune of 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Chris Ross only had nine points but he had seven assists and six steals.

Alex Cabagnot rebounded from a four-point performance in an 82-92 loss to Talk ‘N Text last Wednesday with a team-high 19 points off the bench, with Lutz adding 13 and Arwind Santos 10 and a game-high 13 rebounds, his sixth double-double in the tourney.

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