31 August 2013

Bolts 92, Texters 86

Mario West
Mario West bounced back strong and towed Meralco out of an alarming funk.

West scattered 47 points and anchored the stretch defense on Tony Mitchell in leading the Bolts over favored Talk ‘N Text, 92-86, Friday (31 August 2013) in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Held down to only 21 points in an 85-98 loss to Barangay Ginebra last Saturday, West went to work early before ultimately making 18 of his 27 field goal tries, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, for his new career high in the PBA.

Eighteen of West’s points were poured during the payoff canto, sparking and fueling a Meralco run that had them posting as much as an 85-79 spread that acted as enough of a cushion in the face of continuing pressure from Talk ‘N Text.

And while West was making his shots, he also stymied Mitchell inside the final three minutes that took away the Tropang Texters’ premier weapon and the conference's leading scorer out of the picture, snapping Meralco out of a two-game skid.

"The best way to compete with a star-studded team is through defense and I think we did a good enough job on that," said head coach Ryan Gregorio after his Bolts notched their second win in four games that tied them with idle defending champion Rain or Shine.

"In the end I told them to continue to find ways to win, challenge every shot Mitchell takes," added Gregorio.

Mitchell wound up with 32 points and 11 rebounds but missed his last four shots, typifying Talk 'N Text’s second half collapse that helped Meralco overcome as much as a 42-55 deficit.

The loss was the Texters' second straight and dropped them into the company of San Mig Coffee at eighth on similar 1-2 slates.

Gilas Pilipinas stars Jayson Castro, Larry Fonacier and Ranidel de Ocampo finally suited up for the Tropang Texters and even received a pre-game tribute from PBA Commissioner Chito Salud and Board Chairman Robert Non.

Castro flashed the lethal form that made him Best Point Guard in the recent FIBA Asia, finishing with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Fonacier had a decent outing with 11 points.

De Ocampo, however, still groped for form after making just a field goal in 10 tries, but did have eight rebounds and four assists.

West had plenty of help as Cliff Hodge wound up with 18 points and 15 rebounds and Rey Guevarra scored 10 of his 12 points in the third period, including a layup versus Mitchell that made it a 62-67 count at the end of the third period.

The second half performance was in stark contrast to the one Meralco displayed in the second period as Talk ‘N Text used a zone defense in limiting the Bolts to just 11 points, raze a 16-26 deficit and take a 47-37 lead at the half.

"We’ve finally broken their zone (defense) in the second half. I thought that was the key," said Gregorio.

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