18 April 2016

Bolts 104, NLEX 97

Jared Dillinger
Repeating its feat last season, Meralco eliminated NLEX anew, 104-97, to advance to the 2016 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup on 18 April 2016 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts made sure not to waste their twice-to-beat advantage, fending off the three-point barrage by Garvo Lanete and Simon Enciso to battle back from an 84-75 deficit early in the fourth period.

Reynel Hugnatan came off the bench and helped commandeer the Meralco fightback, pouring 10 of his 20 points in the payoff period to go with seven rebounds.

Chris Newsome also was crucial in the rally, unleashing seven of his 15 markers in the fourth, alongside eight boards and four assists.

"If you told me that we would be the first to advance to the semifinals at the start of the conference, I would've not believed in you. But it’s been a nice ride so far, and I feel very fortunate," said coach Norman Black.

"Hopefully, we can continue to improve, get better and get farther this conference."

Cliff Hodge added 19 points and nine rebounds, Jared Dillinger chipped in 18 markers, and Arinze Onuaku held fort in the middle with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the huge win for the Bolts.

"It was a hard fought game," said Black. "We had a very difficult time with their post defense and getting Arinze a lot of shots within the basket. In the second half, we just came very consistent in bang the ball in post, feed off their defense and try to score off of them. We did a much better job playing basketball."

Meralco now awaits the victor of the TNT-Alaska series in the best-of-5 semifinals.

Al Thornton’s blazing 38 points still went for naught as the Road Warriors failed to force a winner-take-all affair. He also hauled down 14 rebounds.

Lanete went 4-of-9 from threes to end up with 21 markers in the defeat.

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