Meralco survived Phoenix that ran out of gas under the most crucial part of the game, posting a 92-90 victory that kept the Bolts’ quarterfinal bid alive in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the Bolts hanging on to a shaky 92-90 lead, the Fuel Masters gained ball possession after a jump ball between Jaypee Mendoza and Chris Newsome. Willie Wilson, who got the ball, immediately sued for time so the Fuel Masters could design a game-tying or even a game-winning play.
After the in-bound play however, the Fuel Masters failed to carry out their play, with Jeff Chan muffing a potential game-winning three-point attempt at the buzzer.
That enabled the Bolts to preserve the lead and chalk up what was only their third win in nine outings in their sagging campaign in the kickoff conference.
The Bolts, who dominated the game well in the first three quarters, entered the last 2:58 leading by just seven, 92-87, on Garvo Laneta’s basket.
It was from there that they their offense went in tatters while the Fuel Masters were slowly inching on their necks. Jason Perkins and Chan sank two freethrows each while Mendoza added a freethrow as the Fuel Masters threatened at 92-90.
The Fuel Masters got a big crack at turning the game in their favor when Mendoza forced Newsome into a jump ball. The ball went to Wilson who then sued for timeout.
The Fuel Masters tumbled to their fifth loss in nine outings despite four of them finishing in double-figures.
It was entirely different ball game in the first half.
The Bolts were outrebounded in the entire first half, 24-12, but they shared the ball more as manifested by 16 assists compare to the five of Phoenix.
Cliff Hodge and Garvo Lanete were the most productive in the first half on Meralco side, scoring 16 and 14 respectively. The Bolts also drew significant contribution from KG Canaleta who scored 8 points and Mike Tolomia who added 7 points.
The Bolts got off to a 10-0 lead, and with their ball movement going smoothly, they stretched their lead to 29-13 on Canaleta’s triple, before the Fuel Masters trimmed that at 29-18 at the end of the first 12 minutes on Willie Wilson’s basket and Carl Dehesa’s triple.
The Fuel Masters assumed the scoring at the onset of the second, with Jeff Chan and Wilson making a basket each and RJ Jazul knocking in a triple as they moved within 29-25, but Laneta cut the Bolts’ silence with a triple and ignited another Meralco scoring run.
In an instant, the Bolts were up, 47-31, which they sustained until they hit the turn with a 54-40 margin.
Meralco (92) — Lanete 24, Hodge 17, Tolomia 9, Newsome 9, Canaleta 9, Caram 9, Hugnatan 6, Amer 5, Salva 4, Ballesteros 0, Baracael 0.
Phoenix (90) – Wilson 24, Wright 16, Jazul 13, Perkins 10, Chan 8, Mendoza 6, Dehesa 5, Intal 4, Kramer 4, Gamboa 0, Alolino 0, Chua 0.
Quarterscores: 29-18, 54-40, 70-75, 92-90.