28 November 2013

Bolts 112, Air21 79

John Wilson
John Wilson could not have picked a better time to carve a new career milestone.

With Gary David struggling, Wilson led those who picked up the scoring slack for Meralco in a 112-79 thrashing of hapless Air21 Wednesday (27 November 2013) to finally crash the win column of the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Wilson came off the bench to score 13 of his new career-high 26 points in the second quarter in spearheading a sustained attack that fully pulled Meralco from Air21′s clutches en route to setting new highs for both franchises.

Fittingly, it was the 2009 NCAA MVP who pegged the game’s biggest difference, scoring on a breakaway layup to make it 110-73, only 1:41 left.

In the end, the Bolts managed to shrug off David’s off-night. The perennial scoring champion came into the game averaging 25 points but missed his first four shots before winding up with just seven points.

Still, with the likes of Sunday Salvacion, Reynel Hugnatan, skipper Jared Dillinger and Rabeh Al-Hussaini chipping in, Meralco finally got the victory that boosted it from the cellar and into a slot alongside idle Alaska at 1-2.

"We badly needed this to keep our confidence level high," said Meralco head coach Ryan Gregorio, whose team lost its first two outings against Talk 'N Text and Rain or Shine, the last via an 89-94 count only last Friday.

"Hopefully, it is a step towards the right direction in terms of trusting one another, trusting the offense we’re trying to run and staying together, win or lose," he added.

It was the third loss in as many games for Air21, with only Ren-Ren Ritualo and Joseph Yeo scoring in double digits with 12 and 10, respectively.

"We made sure we’re a lot better defensively," said Gregorio. "We had a hard time stopping our opponents in our first two games."

It was the seventh straight win in as many meetings by Meralco over the Bert Lina-owned team formerly known as shopinas.com and the winning margin is now the new bar for the Bolts franchise.

The loss is also the worst ever for the Express/Clickers, surpassing their two 30-point losses to Rain or Shine and Alaska last year.

Helping make that happen is Meralco converting a new franchise high 13 triples, with Wilson going 6-for-6 from beyond the arc to join in the record books five others who made as many without a single miss in a game.

KG Canaleta was also a veritable no-show for Air21 with only three points, 11.5 below his average.

Of little consolation to the Express is Asi Taulava finishing with nine rebounds along with six points, making him only the tenth player in league history to haul at least 5,000 total rebounds in a career. He also moved up to ninth in total defensive boards all-time with 3,263, passing current Alaska reserve Nic Belasco, who has 3,255.

"Sinasabi nga ni coach, shot selection. Maganda siguro ang shot selections ko ngayon," said Wilson, who actually made his first triple to beat the shotclock late in the first quarter.

"Two seconds na lang kaya itinira ko na. Hindi talaga sinasadya, pero nagka-kompiyansa na du’n."

Salvacion wound up with 15 points, nine coming to help Wilson take the Bolts to a 54-36 halftime lead which they stretched to 86-53 when Al-Hussaini, Dillinger, David and Hugnatan got into the act.

"This is a complete shoutout to our second team," said Gregorio. "I told them they really have to play better basketball, especially when they step on the plate. With this game I believe they took my piece of advice." (NC)

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