11 February 2015

Bolts 92, Elastopainters 87

Davis vs Elastopainters
Head coach Norman Black seems to really love the Commissioner’s Cup.

A season after leading Talk ‘N Text to 13 straight wins and almost the championship in the second conference, Black is at it again, this time, further extending Meralco’s all-time best start in franchise history.

The Bolts, who already set the franchise mark when it defeated Talk ‘N Text Wednesday last week, continued their stellar start last 9 February, putting the clamps on Rain or Shine in the fourth quarter en route to staying undefeated in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup as it scored a come-from-behind 92-87 victory at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The payoff period wrote the story of the game, as Meralco, behind by 11 at the start of the quarter, battled back and used a 9-0 blast to take the lead at 80-78 at the 7:21 mark of the period, courtesy of a Mike Cortez lay-up.

Import Josh Davis then took over, scoring 15 of his game-high 31 points in that payoff period while adding 14 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks.

The Bolts more than doubled the E-Painters’ output in that final 12 minutes of play, 30-14.

"It was a strong finish for us in the fourth quarter that made the difference in the game," Black explained. "In the first half, we had a very difficult time with their post offense. We had a hard time guarding (Rick) Jackson. We also did not do a very good job closing out on their shooters. In the second half, we just made some adjustments defensively and that made a lot of difference for us."

The former Grand Slam coach also praised Davis for stepping up late in the game, saying, "I just want to give credit to Josh for coming out with a big offensive night. A lot of people have been criticizing his offense but today, I think we did a very good job of putting him in a position where he could score. He was able to put the points in the board for us and help us win the ballgame."

Cortez also had seven of his 13 points in the fourth, to go with his eight assists, while Gary David got 11 markers.

Meralco punished Rain or Shine as they translated the E-Painters’ 15 turnovers to a 20-2 turnover points advantage and ran the E-Painters to the ground with their 16-2 edge in fastbreak points.

The win puts Meralco at the top of the leaderboards at 4-0, as well as equalling the all-time longest winning streak for the franchise, which was registered during the 2010-2011 Philippine Cup, the Bolts’ maiden conference in the PBA while still under Ryan Gregorio.

"I don’t expect anything, to be honest with you," Black said. "I just try to prepare the team the best I can and hope for the best when we go out to the basketball court. I do know that we have really good practices of late, offensively and defensively. I expected that we would really play well tonight but I didn’t know how we will fare because we’re playing Rain or Shine and they’re a very strong team. It’s a good start for us. Now, we’ve got to concentrate on GlobalPort and get our fifth win."

Rain or Shine fell to 2-2 this conference and saw their two-game winning run snapped.

Jackson once again impressed for the E-Painters, tallying a double-double of 22 points and 18 boards. However, he was limited to just four points in that crucial stretch in the fourth where Rain or Shine badly needed a bucket against the rampaging Bolts,

Paul Lee also had 12 markers and 10 rebounds despite hurting his knee midway in the second quarter after he collided with Meralco guard John Wilson.

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