Bolts destroy Express
West flares up, chases Menor in dugoutBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Mario West shot a career-high 34 points to highlight an explosive show that lifted Meralco to a 106-77 rout of Air21 and revived its playoff hopes in the PBA Governors’ Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But the Meralco import spoiled his brilliant outing by charging into the Express’ locker room after the game and nearly causing a riot as he sought Ogie Menor, who was earlier thrown out for hammering him hard in the head late in the third quarter.
Menor, the former San Beda star in the NCAA who has become a roughhouse artist as a pro, was slapped a Flagrant Foul 2 violation and, according to witnesses, retreated to the parking lot when he saw West storming toward the Air21 dugout.
Along with Menor, West will be summoned by the Commissioner’s Office tomorrow to explain his post-game action which left Express team manager Jovvie Saddul hurt after alleging that he was hit by the Meralco player at the back of the head.
“He ran to the (Air21) dugout to shake the hand of Ogie, I think that was what was in his mind,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said with a naughty laugh as he tried to make light of what would have been a serious situation.
The Bolts set franchise marks in winning for the third time in seven games with West shooting 26 points in the first two periods. West also had seven rebounds and seven steals.
The game was a sleeper to begin with as Meralco opened up leads of as many as 22 after opening up with 21 unanswered points, which was a franchise mark as far as streaks are concerned and tied the sixth all-time longest in the league.
The Bolts would later take a 35-point lead near the end of the first half, only for the game to take a rough twist when Menor, already beaten in a driving play by West, fouled the Meralco import hard and sent him sprawled on the floor at the 9:22 mark of the third quarter.
Menor had already left the Air21 dugout even before the game ended and was actually talking with a utility personnel of TV5 when he saw that West was headed for their dugout and decided to disappear.
Zach Graham finished with 36 points, just a point under his league-leading average, for Air21, which lost for the fourth straight time in a 1-5 card and all but bowed out of further contention.
Mac Cardona had 15 points and Asi Taulava contributed 11 that went with 16 rebounds as the Bolts won the first of three games they have to sweep in order to avoid complications of a playoff for a berth in the next round.
“There’s still a lot of tasks for us to complete to make it to the next level,” said Gregorio. “The goal is to have a clear passage to the next level and no less than a sweep is required.”
MERALCO 106—West 34, Cardona 15, Taulava 11, Mercado 9, Macapagal 9, Bulawan 6, Reyes 6, Hugnatan 6, Ross 5, Yee 3, Aljamal 2, Ballesteros 0, Daa 0, Artadi 0.
AIR21 77—Graham 36, Ritualo 12, Isip 10, Arboleda 6, Omolon 5, Sena 2, Espiritu 2, Menor 2, Faundo 2, Bagatsing 0, Salamat 0, Sison 0, Escobal 0, Hubalde 0.
Quarters: 34-12, 64-35, 82-62, 106-77