Photo from PBA.ph
ONE more able body for Meralco can go a long way, especially if that player is Sol Mercado.
Mercado finally saw action for the season and immediately scored a team-high 16 points off the bench
as the Bolts dealt the Petron Blaze Boosters their first defeat with an 80-70 victory Sunday in the
PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gabby Espinas had his second double-double of the conference with 14 points and 12 rebounds and
along with Asi Taulava made some crucial baskets in the fourth period. Meralco's defense also held
Petron to its lowest output yet for the season.
Still, it was clearly the return of Mercado which provided the biggest lift for the Boosters as they
improved their win-loss record to 3-2 while cutting short the Boosters' winning run at three.
"Sol gave us a huge lift, but more importantly he gave us another artillery," said Meralco coach
Ryan Gregorio. "His presence alone gave us a big confidence boost since we know we have another
live body who can play."
The man who suffered a right knee injury prior to the season also finished with five rebounds and
four assists, surprising even Gregorio himself.
"I didn't expect him to play this well since he was out five weeks," related Gregorio. "But his
heart is so big that he was able to play through the pressure and the pain and tow us through to
Arwind Santos had his fourth straight double-double of 17 and 13 and Chris Lutz and Joseph Yeo
chipped in 16 and 11, respectively. Yet the other go-to guys of Petron failed to deliver their
Alex Cabagnot was held to only six points, 10 below his average, and Denok Miranda, who had 18 the
last time out, managed only seven.
As a team, the Boosters did not breach the 40 percent-mark in field shooting for any quarter before
finishing with just 32.4% by making only 24 of 74 shots to the Bolts' 36.6 percent (26-for-71).
Gregorio would like to think it was his team's defense that limited Petron to 18.7 points below its
"I think one critical factor in this game was our defense," he pointed out. "For limiting a
high-scoring team like Petron to 70 points, I think we really deserve to win this one."
The Bolts' ability to make stops surfaced to the fullest going into the game's last two minutes when
they held the Boosters scoreless after the latter had crawled to within 70-75.
There's enough time for Meralco to preen before its following games against Alaska on Friday and
Rain or Shine on Sunday.
"Our battlecry going into this game was, for at least some moments we want to be the best," related
Gregorio. "And in order to be the best we have to beat the best. Prior to this game Petron was the
best, so for one shining moment were able to feel it. It's nice to be the first to beat Petron."
The outcome was far from decided although Meralco managed to erect a 66-53 lead, early in the fourth
quarter, following Mercado's triple and Mark Isip's three-point play.
But Taulava scored four points and Espinas completed a three-point play, all off offensive rebounds
that ensured Meralco had enough cushion going into the endgame.
Meralco actually started taking control in the second quarter and took a 36-30 halftime lead, thanks
mainly to Mercado and rookie Brian Faundo combining for half of the team's 18 points and Petron
going 7-for-18 from the field.
Santos scattered nine of his points in the third canto, all helping the Boosters keep within 46-48,
before a more balanced Meralco scoring led by Mark Isip and Chico Lanete, padded the lead to 58-49.
MERALCO 80 - Mercado 16, Espinas 14, Lanete 9, taulava 8, Isip 7, Faundo 6, Macapagal 6, Omolon 6,
Borboran 5, Yee 3, Ballesteros 0.
PETRON 70 - Santos 17, Lutz 16, Yeo 11, Miranda 7, Cabagnot 6, Ildefonso 6, Agustin 3, Baclao 2,
Sharma 2, Guevarra 0, Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 18-17, 36-30, 58-49, 80-70
RAIN OR SHINE BLOWS OUT ALASKA
Source : Celest R. Flores INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines—Banking on consistency, Rain or Shine rose to the top of the standings after a 120-84 clobbering of a winless Alaska in the second game of the 2011 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Marksman Jeff Chan got the Elastopainters in the early goings of the game when he unleashed five three pointers in the first quarter alone to wrap up with 20 points on 60 percent shooting clip from the outside.
Rain or Shine, toting a 4-1 card, pulled away for good in the second half even after mercurial head coach Yeng Guiao was sent out for two technical fouls.
Burly bigman JR Quinahan and Ronjay Buenafe contributed 19 and 17 points, respectively, which offset a lackadaisical game from top rookie Paul Lee, who didn’t show up offensively for the Elastopainters.
“The strength of our team is really in the balance that we have. Everybody made a contribution. It just proves a point—we’re not going to put the responsibilty on Paul Lee’s shoulders,” said Guiao after the game.
The Aces, meanwhile, careened to their fourth straight loss as they trailed by as many as 34 points, unable to counter Rain or Shine’s hot shooting.
Alaska, which hasn’t gotten its act together yet since former head coach Tim Cone’s departure, drew 20 points from star guard LA Tenorio, who single-handedly tried to revive his squad in the third quarter.