09 January 2014

Bolts 92, Air21 88

Bolts vs Air21
Sad memory of their loss to Barangay Ginebra the last time out came to mind as the Meralco Bolts bungled a six-point lead in the final minute of regulation play.

But this time, the Bolts had Gary David, Reynel Hugnatan and new acquisition Danny Ildefonso to save them in overtime.

David beat out KG Canaleta in a fierce shootout and Ildefonso made a decent debut as a Meralco player as the Bolts overcame the Express in a battle of will, squeezing out a crucial 92-88 win in extension play at the resumption of the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Saturday night (4 January 2013).

David came through with a conference-high 34 points while Ildefonso contributed 14 markers, six rebounds, five assists and one steal as Meralco checked a four-game slide and caught up with Alaska Milk at seventh place at 4-7.

“What an incredible test again. But this time we made sure we’ll come out on top,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

Against Ginebra, the Bolts blew away a won ballgame as it squandered a five-point lead in the last 25 seconds.

“It was a scary game. Images of the Ginebra game were vivid in our mind. I just told players to come out fighting and make right decision in the end,” Gregorio said.

The Bolts survived the test even minus chief guard Mike Cortez who was sidelined by a knee injury. Cortez may be out for the next four months as he’s found to have suffered a ligament tear.

Jared Dillinger took over the playmaking chores and David stepped up in scoring as the Bolts came back to life, making some improvement in their bid while pushing the Express deeper down the cellar at 2-9.

“We’re still alive. But the very survival instinct to come out of poverty is the same instinct we need to come out and survive,” said Gregorio with his team locked in a tight fight with Globalport, Alaska, Barako Bull, San Mig Coffee and Air21 for the four remaining slots in the quarterfinals.

Earlier in the day, Talk n Text formalized its quarters entry with a 121-117 win over Alaska Milk also in extension play.

It’s the first pair of OTs seen in the league in 15 years.

Highlighting the Meralco-Air21 thriller were the whopping numbers produced by David, Canaleta and Asi Taulava.

David, averaging only 15 points a game in the tourney before this game, went 4-of-7 from the three-point area and finished with his best output in a Meralco jersey.

For Air21, Canaleta poured in 32 markers while Taulava collared 26 rebounds – the most by any 40-year-old PBA player.

At the finish in regulation, Canaleta fired three three-point bombs and the Express sent the game into overtime at 79.

David, however, won’t let his night go down in shambles.

With 29 points in regulation, he went firing again at the start of overtime and the Bolts lived on, nailing down the crucial victory.

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