Bolts wax hot, gain equalizer
Red-hot Meralco unleashed its lethal form and zapped San Miguel Beer, 111-97, to tie their best-of-seven semifinal series in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bolts head coach Norman Black, while known for his defensive schemes, turned to a more offensive approach to even out the series at 2-2 and reduced the battle into a thrilling race-to-two duel.
The winner of this series will move to the finals against the survivor in the TNT Tropang Giga-Magnolia best-of-seven affair.
Meralco avoided falling to a deep 3-1 hole as Aaron Black hit 21 points on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown to go with seven rebounds and seven assists, while Allein Maliksi sizzled for 19 markers and four triples.
Offensively, we were able to get the ball to our bigs and they had a lot of confidence tonight.
Cliff Hodge led the frontcourt with 18 points on impressive 8-of-11 shooting, Raymond Almazan wound up 17 markers off the bench, and Bong Quinto added 11 points to underscore the Bolts’ sizzling offensive display.
“We made some adjustments on how to attack their defense and it worked out for us. We’re just trying to get the win so we can tie the series,” Black said.
“Offensively, we were able to get the ball to our bigs and they had a lot of confidence tonight.”
Meralco hit the ground running and fired 32 points in the opening canto, the most points given up by the Beermen since the start of the season.
San Miguel, which was supposed to carry the momentum from its 96-91 Game 3 victory on Sunday, struggled offensively with a woeful 8-of-28 shooting from three-point territory.
CJ Perez got the Beermen to as close as five early in the third, but back-to-back triples from Black and Newsome sparked an 18-4 assault to gain a 19-point advantage.
Almazan took over in the fourth, dropping 12 markers while finding an answer on every San Miguel uprising.
Perez and Marcio Lassiter registered 24 and 23 points, respectively, but drew very little support with only 20 points from the bench. Ian Suyu
MERALCO (111) — Black 21, Maliksi 19, Hodge 18, Almazan 17, Quinto 11, Newsome 8, Baclao 4, Belo 4, Hugnatan 3, Jose 2, Pascual 2, Banchero 2, Pasaol 0, Caram 0, Johnson 0.
SAN MIGUEL (97) — Perez 24, Lassiter 23, Fajardo 21, Manuel 9, Brondial 9, Canete 4, Zamar 3, Cruz 2, Tautuaa 1, Pessumal 1, Ross 0, Enciso 0, Herndon 0.
QUARTERS: 36-23, 58-53, 88-71, 111-97.
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