13 March 2014

Bolts 85, Aces 76

Brian Butch Bolts
Meralco leaned on the hot-shooting of its import Brian Butch to beat Alaska, 85-76, for its first win in the 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The six-foot-10 Butch, a bit flat-footed but a deadly outside shooter despite his size, made six 3-pointers en route to a 27-point night and had 17 rebounds and a couple of steals and blocks.

"I thought we did a good job at competing today despite our obvious lack of arsenal because of injured players. We did it with our defense," said Meralco head coach Ryan Gregorio, whose squad played without its starters Mike Cortez (knee) and Jared Dillinger (bacterial infection).

"That's really his (Butch) strength. He is really a floor spacer. He gives a lot of opportunities for the guys to penetrate because of the open space inside," Gregorio said of Butch, who scored 18 of his points in the second half.

Veterans Reynel Hugnatan and Gary David added 14 and 12 points, respectively for the Bolts, who bounced back from a blowout loss to the San Miguel Beermen in their first game.

JVee Casio led the Aces with 19 points as he and import Rob Dozier, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds, tried to will their team back.

Dozier, the reigning best import, made it a six-point game with still over three minutes left before the Bolts answered with six straight points capped by a right corner triple from rookie Anjo Caram, who started the game.

"The reminder pretty much was you’re not really going to get a lot of minutes with starters there. Anjo caram played well, defending and distributing. He seized the day," said Gregorio of the former San Beda Red Lion.

Both teams shot poorly from the field at just 35 percent and at the free throw line with the two teams missing at least 10 freebies.

"Our defense really spelled the difference," Gregorio reiterated.

And that defense forced 14 Alaska turnovers to get 17 points off of it while Meralco took care of the leather with only 10 miscues.

The defending champion Aces, who slipped to 1-2, drew good minutes from newly-acquired big man Vic Manuel.

Manuel, who was traded by Air21 for Aldrech Ramos, had six points, five rebounds in 10 minutes in his debut.

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