14 March 2013

Bolts 112, Barako Bull 104

Ronjay Buenafe
Ronjay Buenafe can sometimes get lost in Meralco's slew of gunners.

He made sure he would not be forgotten by coming up with a rather unexpected explosion to lift the Bolts to a 112-104 victory over Barako Bull Wednesday (13 March 2013) in the highest-scoring game so far in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Averaging only 8.2 points in this first six games in the conference, Buenafe scored all his 19 points in the fourth period to fully stir Meralco to life, enabling it to surge out of a tight game and notch a more comfortable win than its one-point squeakers in its last two games.

"It’s great to see players waking up after a long sleep and it's just nice to see Ronjay heeding the call when we were struggling there in the fourth,” said Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio of his 2-guard who went 4-for-8 from the field and made eight of 10 free throw tries.

Twelve of those points came during a 17-4 charge that propped Meralco’s complete rise from an 80-83 deficit and into the lead for good.

The 29-year-old guard’s output for a quarter is only a point shy of the conference-best owned by Air21′s Nino Canaleta in an 86-83 loss to Talk 'N Text last 15 February 2013.

"In our team, you don't know who's gonna light up," added Gregorio. "One game it's Sunday (Salvacion), the next night Macmac (Cardona). Tonight it was Ronjay who shone the brightest offensively."

Eric Dawson had 27 points and 20 rebounds for Meralco, which also drew 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds from Chris Ross.

The victory jacked Meralco’s overall win-loss record to 4-3, lodging it at fourth-running spot even if the gameplan Gregorio laid out was not exactly followed to the letter.

"We were preparing ourselves defensively but it's such a great relief we won using our offense as our main arsenal," said Gregorio, whose team’s previous high in the conference came in a 99-92 win over Talk ‘N Text in their conference-debut last 9 February 2013.

The loss was the fourth straight and fifth in eight games overall for Barako Bull, sliding it down to seventh.

Evan Brock put up monster numbers with game-highs of 37 points and 25 rebounds in only two minutes of rest and the Energy Cola made two more triples than the Bolts with eight, yet they were completely caught flat-footed by Buenafe’s sudden and continuous bursts.

It did not help Barako Bull any that Josh Urbiztondo was held down to only four points, a personal conference low for the guard who came into the game averaging 15.3 points, and the 22 three-point misses it had.

Gregorio said those are the highlights of their defensive plan. “Today we had a very good gameplan guarding their three-pointers. We also did not allow Josh to take over the game and I thought Brock got tired towards the end,” he stated.

There were still some dicey moments for Meralco, like when Barako took just seven minutes to wipe out a 26-40 deficit and take a 51-48 lead at the half, and when it fell behind by 70-77 after Mick Pennisi and Mark Macapagal boomed in treys and Danny Seigle completed a three-point play.

Good thing Salvacion drained his own trey and Reynel Hugnatan strung up five points to give the Bolts a 78-77 lead before Dawson returned to the game and promptly scored on a putback to make it an 82-83 count and set the stage for Buenafe’s heroics.

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