Energy upend Bolts, force 3-way deadlock
Rain or Shine downs Talk ‘N Text for 8th winBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Playing brilliantly in one stretch and sloppy in the next, Barako Bull squeezed out an 81-79 victory over Meralco yesterday and forged a three-team playoff for the final PBA Governors’ Cup playoff slot at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Flashing sharp form in a span that bridged the third and fourth periods, the Energy raced to a 17-point lead which they almost threw away before emerging victorious and joining a three-way tie for the last semifinal berth with the Bolts and the idle Powerade Tigers.
Rain or Shine will take an 8-1 record into the semifinals after the Elasto Painters hung tough against Talk ‘N Text for a 92-90 victory in the second game.
Jamelle Cornley scored all of his six fourth quarter points inside the final 1:45 before smothering Ranidel de Ocampo’s potential game-tying short stab as time expired.
It was the first loss in the last five games for the Texters, who will go into the playoffs tied for third spot with Barangay Ginebra and Petron Blaze with 5-4 records. B-Meg will have the second best slate at 6-3.
Barako Bull actually scored just four points in the last 8:42, but their 77-60 lead proved decisive as Meralco’s Dennis Daa muffed the potential game-winning, wide-open jumper from the keyhole and Leroy Hickerson hit a free throw with seven-tenths of a second left.
“We played not to lose and that’s what happened,” Barako Bull coach Junnel Baculi, who had an argument with former two-time MVP Willie Miller in public view in the fourth, said. “Fortunately for us, Daa didn’t make that shot. We were lucky to pull off this win.”
Barako Bull finished with a 4-5 record like the Bolts and the Tigers. But because of a superior quotient, Meralco will await the winner of the first KO game set tomorrow between the Energy and the Tigers. The sixth semifinal slot will be staked on Wednesday.
Winning by more than five points last night would have given Barako the bye.
Daa was plucked from the bench by coach Ryan Gregorio when nothing good was happening for Meralco in the fourth period, and the former Letran stalwart in the NCAA sparked the rally that almost won it for the Bolts.
Hickerson finished with 22 points despite making just 3-of-12 attempts.
Miller finished with just seven, his fourth quarter cut short when Baculi abruptly recalled him to the bench.
Baculi was quick to dismiss the exchange as part of the game.
BARAKO BULL 81—Hickerson 22, Seigle 16, Tubid 10, Kramer 8, Miller 7, Allado 7, Cruz 6, Salvacion 3, Najorda 2, Pennisi 0.
MERALCO 79—West 40, Taulava 15, Cardona 8, Daa 5, Macapagal 5, Bulawan 2, Mercado 2, Hugnatan 2, Ross 0, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 22-14, 41-39, 69-59, 81-79
RAIN OR SHINE 92—Cornely 19, Lee 18, Chan 14, Cruz 11, Norwood 9, Belga 7, Quinahan 6, Tang 2, Arana 2, Buenafe 2, Ibanes 2.
TALK N’ TEXT 90—Castro 25, Harris 11, Reyes 11, Williams 10, Fonacier 10, Alapag 8, Aban 5, De Ocampo 4, Peek 4, Aguilar 2.
Quarters: 27-28, 46-51, 67-68, 92-90