06 September 2013

Bolts 82, Elastopainters 76

John Wilson
Meralco continued to weave its spell over the PBA's most recent titlists.

The Bolts stymied defending champion Rain or Shine, 82-76, Friday (6 September 2013) at the Mall of Asia Arena for their third straight PBA Governors’ Cup victory and add on to a surge that already has as victims Talk 'N Text and Alaska.

Mario West was held down to only 17 points but his local teammates more than stepped up on both ends of the floor as Meralco assumed solo second place with the win, its fourth in six games in all.

The Bolts limited TNT and Alaska to an average of just 80 points, making their most recent effort sweeter for head coach Ryan Gregorio.

"We really dug deep to find ways to win," said Gregorio. "It was again a defensive struggle and that's the only way to win."

West's points were his lowest yet in the PBA which he added with six rebounds. But those hardly mattered.

John Wilson had his best performance yet in a Bolts uniform with a team-high 18 points he laced with five rebounds and three assists and rookie Cliff Hodge also had 17 points, five rebounds and the last of his two blocks proved to be a very crucial one.

Arizona Reid notched 22 points and nine rebounds but only Jireh Ibanes' personal conference-high 18 points were the lone other double digit score for Rain or Shine, which absorbed its third loss in four games and dropped to 3-3 in all.

Indeed, the Elasto Painters generally struggled as they wound up making just 31 of 88 field goal attempts, including a miserable 4-for-27 from beyond the arc.

Gregorio said it was all by design. "We were able to reach our goal. Rain or Shine was limited to below 80 points," he stated.

"I told my players with great effort the reward is greater and they took the challenge and rose above it."

After its third game in eight days, Meralco is now up for some welcome respite before plunging back into action against Globalport on Wednesday. Gregorio said the time will not be spent idly.

"We're not satisfied. We still want to continue to climb up the ladder with defense as our strongest armor," stressed Gregorio.

There are really some refinements needed as despite its shooting woes Rain or Shine still managed to whittle what was once a 14-point third quarter deficit to just two points twice, the last at 76-78, still 1:52 left.

But the Elasto Painters would not score anymore despite five offensive thrusts.

Wilson, meanwhile, made three charities and Hodge one before practically sealing the win with his huge block on Jeff Chan’s layup attempt in the last 26 seconds.

Though not as awe-inspiring as his teammate’s, Chris Ross also foiled a Paul Lee drive earlier, resulting in a Reynel Hugnatan 16-footer that made it a 78-74 game, still 2:19 remaining.

Rain or Shine’s shooting woes became apparent much earlier and Meralco was quick to pounce, banking on the momentum built up by Wilson’s three triples in the opening quarter to stretch its lead to 37-26 and a high of 53-39, early in the third period.

Yet the E-Painters would keep plodding on and rallied chiefly behind Reid and Ibanes to make a close game of it.

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