22 April 2014

Bolts 94, Elasto Painters 91

Darnell Jackson
A well-rested Meralco squad drew first blood in its best-of-three quarterfinals series against Rain or Shine, escaping with a 94-91 victory on 21 April at the start of the 2014 PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Darnell Jackson had a double-double of 30 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Bolts in the series-opening win, including the last two baskets in the final 68 seconds which pushed the Bolts to a 94-91 lead with 10.2 ticks to play.

Cliff Hodge then came up with the finishing touch, blocking Paul Lee’s potential game-tying trey from way beyond the three-point line as the buzzer sounded.

Looking to win a best-of-three quarterfinal for the first time after five previous failures, Meralco goes for the jugular Wednesday in the same venue.

"We've been in this situation before. We were not able to close it. (But) experience is the best teacher, so hopefully now, with more intelligence and a little more experience in our end, we can get it this time. We know that in a best-of-three series, you don’t really win a series until you get two wins," said Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio, well aware of his team’s taking the series openers in best-of-three quarterfinals against San Mig Coffee also in the Commissioner’s Cup of the previous two seasons. Meralco bungled both times, losing Games 2 and 3.

Gregorio is hoping the third time’s going to be a charm for Meralco, which is hoping to win a playoff series for the first time even in the midst of an expected comeback from the Elasto Painters.

"We’re bracing ourselves for that big Rain or Shine fightback on Wednesday. (But) we’ll be ready," Gregorio said.

Gary David also came up big for the Bolts in the second half, scoring 22 of his 27 points built around a 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the three-point arc.

"Gary knows how to win in playoff situations and he knows it that he really has increased, not only his output but also improved his accuracy from the three and also from the field," explained Gregorio. "It's not like we’re gonna win a lot of games in the playoffs if he shoot blanks. So when the playoff time comes, his accuracy and consistency increases our chances for victory."

Jared Dillinger also canned 15 markers, while Hodge chipped in nine.

With Rain or Shine playing its second game in as many days, the Bolts stayed on pace with the Elasto Painters until fatigue played a factor in the final five minutes, which was evident as Rain or Shine import Wayne Chism cramped his way to end the game.

"We just took advantage of the fatigue factor primarily because of yesterday’s game. And we just made sure we’ll pounce on our edge," Gregorio also said. "We saw them cramping in the end and I was just telling our import, ‘D (Jackson), it can never be us more tired than them. It should be them more tired than us.’ And good enough, he was able to bail us out and got big shots to salvage a victory against a very, very tough and resilient Rain or Shine team."

Chism had 27 points and 12 boards to lead the E-Painters, while Paul Lee added 15.

Ryan Arana and Chris Tiu, who waxed hot from the rainbow country in the payoff period, finished with 10 points apiece. (RL)

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