Meralco trips Phoenix
Continuing to use defense as its meal ticket, Meralco on Wednesday night shut down Phoenix Petroleum, 81-66, at Smart Araneta Coliseum—keeping the Bolts well in the fight for a top two berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Bolts, who failed to make it past the eliminations in the Philippine Cup with no reliable big man to lean on, got 20 points from vastly improved point guard Baser Amer and 20 rebounds and 15 points from import Alex Stepheson in rising to 7-1 overall.
Phoenix lost for the fifth time in eight games and the Fuel Masters now have their backs against the wall going into the homestretch of the elimination round.
Super sophomore Chris Newsome, the newly minted Slam Dunk champ, added 19 points for Meralco, which tabbed a playoff slot after their first seven games.
Jameel McKay scored 16 points and had 14 rebounds, but the Fuel Masters got just one more player in twin digits—Cyrus Baguio with 10.
“Defensively, we were pretty sharp,” Meralco’s Norman Black said. “Offensively, we have some things to work on. We are far from the form we had before the break (offensively).”
“We need to keep on working [now that we are in the playoffs],” he said. “We are in [the fight for a top two] but there are two other teams still with a shot.”
Meanwhile, veteran KG Canaleta and import Greg Smith scored 24 each and Mike DiGregorio tossed in a career-high 22 as Blackwater hammered out a 104-98 decision of NLEX to stay in the running for a playoff berth.
It was the first win in the last three games and just the second in eight overall for the Elite, who made it no secret that they are expecting to win against Mahindra on Sunday to earn a legitimate shot making the playoffs.
“I just told the players to give ourselves a good chance to make the playoffs [by winning this game and against Mahindra],” coach Leo Isaac said. “We’re just prepping ourselves to be in a situation where we can enjoy the games against San Miguel and [Barangay] Ginebra.”
Isaac is referring to their last two outings on May 26 and May 31, which could decide their fate.
“Medyo manipis ang (we have very slim) chances,” Isaac said of his chances against the Gin Kings and the Beermen. “But we would like to give ourselves that chance [by winning against Mahindra].”
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