03 May 2016

Bolts 86, Aces 70

Cliff Hodge
Meralco made a giant turnaround from a lopsided loss the last time, going on an amazing breakaway from a two-point edge late in the third period on the way to a decisive 86-70 triumph over Alaska Milk that forced a do-or-die Game 5 in their Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four duel at Smart Araneta Coliseum on 2 May.

The Bolts uncorked a huge 23-4 run from an eight-minute span bridging the last two quarters, peeling away from a tight duel and roaring on to stay in the hunt for its first Finals appearance.

With Rain or Shine already in the finals, Meralco and Alaska Milk slug it out in a knockout set to Wednesday (4 May) to determine the second finalist.

"It's all about fighting to live to fight another game," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

Arinze Onuaku and his teammates endured a tough defensive battle in the first half before seizing the moment late in the third period and sustaining the momentum to the very end.

It was a long, lonely night for the Aces, who struggled badly after their 92-72 rout in Game Three.

Onuaku and Cliff Hodge both churned out double-double numbers for the Bolts who also drew double-digit outputs from Jared Dillinger and Bryan Faundo.

Onuaku collected 16 points and the same number of rebounds while Hodge came through with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Calvin Abueva, Alaska’s energy player, was held to 10 markers and four rebounds.

With each team really making it hard for one another, Meralco and Alaska fought through six dead locks and eight lead changes before the Bolts barely took the half at 36-34.

The Aces made only 13 of 42 field-goal attempts for their lowest output in any half in the conference.

As Alaska continued to throw clunkers in the early minutes of the second half, Meralco established control at 48-37.

Rob Dozier scored eight straight markers, including back-to-back three-pointers, to rouse his team from a slumber, rallying to within two at 52-54.

But the Bolts quickly regrouped, ending the third at 62-52 on an eight-to-nothing salvo capped by a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Dillinger from beyond the midcourt line.

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