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Meralco grabs playoff bonus



Tony Bishop shot the lights out as Meralco secured a playoff bonus after crushing Phoenix, 109-90, in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Bishop drilled 23 of his 35 points in the third quarter alone as the Bolts recovered from their three-game slide and gained a twice-to-beat edge going to the quarterfinal round.

Ending their elimination campaign with a 7-4 card, the Bolts are now assured of a fourth-place finish regardless of the result of the tussle between TNT Tropang Giga and NorthPort at press time.

A win from the Tropang Giga will put themselves in third place, sending San Miguel Beer to the fifth spot and a possible rematch with the Bolts.

With that, the Fuel Masters could still have a shot for a quarterfinal berth when they battle the Batang Pier in a do-or-die playoff match.

A NorthPort victory, meanwhile, completes the playoff casting as the Batang Pier will claim the eighth spot and will battle league-leader Magnolia in the next round.

TNT will fall to No. 5 and will set a quarterfinal duel with the Bolts.

Against Phoenix, Bishop was simply unstoppable, grabbing 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals in nearly 44 minutes of action.

Allein Maliksi was also on fire, hitting crucial baskets that highlighted his 27-point outburst on 4-of-8 three-point shooting.

Cliff Hodge provided extra spark with 14 points and eight rebounds while Bong Quinto had 10 points and three assists.

Meralco head coach Norman Black said the win was a morale-booster for them, knowing that their recent slump affected their confidence.

“This win is very important because we lost our last three games and of course when you’re losing your confidence, it takes a hit,” Black said.

“For the most part, we were pretty much prepared for everything (Phoenix) threw at us. Fortunately for us, Allein Maliksi hit some crucial shots and Tony Bishop was there the entire night.”

Import DuVaughn Maxwell fired 26 points and 12 rebounds, but it was not enough as the Fuel Masters are now on the verge of missing their second consecutive playoffs.