8,350

Bolts strike

  • Written by Elmer N. Manuel
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 190

Games tomorrow

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4:30 p.m.  -- Kia vs. Blackwater

7 p.m. -- Magnolia vs. Globalport

MERALCO got back to its winning ways but not before going into a scare in the payoff period as it
escaped with a 92-90 victory over Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum
last night.

The Bolts bucked the rally staged by the Fuel Masters in the final minute of the match to
snap their three-game losing skid and improve to a 3-6 win-loss record while dealing their victim
their fifth loss in nine games.
    
Garvo Lanete sizzled for Meralco with 24 points and was pivotal factor in the Bolts’ first-
half surge to keep its playoff hopes alive.
    
Cliff Hodge was the only other Meralco player in double figures, finishing with 17 points as
the Bolts survived in the absence of Ranidel de Ocampo and Jared Dillinger.
    
The Bolts also took advantage of the absence of Fuel Masters’ pointguard LA Revilla, who sat
out the game due to a hairline fracture in his right, shooting hand, which he hurt early in the
team’s 74-72 win over Talk N Text last Wednesday.
    
“That was really a hard-fought game. I’m happy my guys kept fighting ‘til the end,” Meralco

coach Norman Black said. “Phoenix fought their way back. We really had to dig deep to win.”
    
“We treated this game like this was a championship, because it was, for us,” he added. “If
we had lost, we would be out.”
    
The Bolts actually wasted an early 16-point lead, but regained their bearings in the payoff
period before holding off another late rally by the Fuel Masters.
    
Willy Wilson led Phoenix with 24 points, while Matthew Wright and RJ Jazul contributed 16
and 13 points, respectively.
    
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia admitted that departure of Jericho Cruz is a
huge loss to the team, but looked forward to a fresh start with everybody in the team on the same
page.
    
Garcia earlier admitted the 27-year-old Cruz had long wanted to be reunited with former
coach and current NLEX mentor Yeng Guiao. Instead the fourth-year guard found himself shipped to TNT
for Sidney Onwubere and a 2018 first-round pick.
    
“Ang laking bagay din talaga and Jericho’s a really talented player, but I think it’s better
to move on after…alam naman natin na he’s not happy with us, so that was one of the things we
thought of,” Garcia said in an online interview.
    
Garcia stressed he has never had any beef with Cruz, whose numbers have dropped
significantly since Guiao transferred from ROS to NLEX.
    
“I’ve never had any ano with Jericho. Wala naman akong sama ng loob sa kanya, but it’s also
difficult to have a player who doesn’t want to play for the team,” Garcia said.
    
The scores:
    
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.