PUTTING premium on defense yet again, Meralco last night brought down a third straight PBA Governors’ Cup heavyweight in Rain or Shine, 82-76, to grab solo second place in the elimination round at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Bolts clamped down on the Elasto Painters all night and pounded out their fourth win in six games even after getting a career-low 17 points from usually prolific import Mario West, who made just 4-of-12 field goal attempts.
“We really dug deep to find ways to win,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio told reporters. “It was a defensive struggle and that’s the only way we could win. We (know we) cannot get to 90 points (each game), and our goal is to pretty much not give up 80.”
In the second game, Alaska notched its third win in five games by breaking out of a tight match late and forging a 112-104 victory over Talk ‘N Text.
The Texters dropped to 2-3.
John Wilson played his best game in a Meralco uniform, shooting three triples in the first quarter to finish with 18 points, with Cliff Hodge chipping in 17 and a lot of the intangibles on the defensive end.
The defending champion Elasto Painters dropped to a level 3-3 card after usual heavy contributors Paul Lee and Jeff Chan struggled to combine for just seven points.
“We’re happy winning against three big teams,” Gregorio said. Meralco had brought down Talk ‘N Text and Alaska before chopping down the Painters last night.
Meralco actually led by as large as 53-39 early in the third period after a jumper by Chris Timberlake with 9:18 remaining.
But the Painters doggedly nibbled away at that deficit and came to within two twice late in the fourth, only for Meralco to refuse to yield the lead by challenging each Rain or Shine attempt.
MERALCO 82—Wilson 18, Hodge 17, West 17, Hugnatan 8, Guevarra 6, Reyes 6, Ross 4, Timberlake 4, Allado 2, Cardona 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 76—Reid 22, Ibañes 18, Quiñahan 9, Lee 5, Cruz 5, Belga 5, Matias 3, Norwood 3, Tang 2, Chan 2, Araña 2, Rodriguez 0.
Quarters: 21-20, 44-37, 66-59, 82-76
ALASKA 112—McKines 38, Thoss 16, Baguio 15, Espinas 9, Hontiveros 9, Jazul 8, Dela Cruz 8, Casio 6, Abueva 3.
TALK ‘N TEXT 104—Mitchell 30, De Ocampo 17, Castro 15, Anthony 10, Peek 9, Alapag 7, Al-Hussaini 6, Aban 6, Fonacier 4, Reyes 0, Carey 0.
Quarters: 19-16, 48-48, 86-76, 112-104