Meralco grabs last semis slotBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
GAMES TOMORROW (Ynares Center, Antipolo)
5:15 p.m.—Meralco vs Barangay Ginebra
7:30 p.m.—Petron Blaze vs Rain or Shine
MARIO West hit some key baskets in the stretch last night and towed Meralco to a breakthrough in its PBA existence with a 94-86 victory over Powerade at Smart Araneta Coliseum that sent the Bolts to the Governors’ Cup semifinals.
West finished with 26 points, 10 of them in the fourth period, and Mac Cardona ably backed him up with 24 as the Bolts booked the last bus to the six-team semifinals.
Meralco will be back on the floor tomorrow against Barangay Ginebra.
This is the first time that Meralco has entered the semifinals in a PBA conference and the Bolts also got a lift from Reynel Hugnatan and the veteran Asi Taulava, who was inspirational all night with his gung-ho style of play.
“The hardest always is the breakthrough,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said.
The loss eliminated the Tigers, who got to this KO match after showing Barako Bull the door Tuesday night.
It also effectively put in great jeopardy—if not already extinguishing—Gary David’s chase for the MVP award, one he so richly deserves after leading all locals in scoring with more than 26 points a game this season.
Meralco will take a 4-5 record into the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Petron Blaze, whose original import pick Eddie Basden has a knee injury, did not like what it saw in Italian league veteran Paul Marigney in practice yesterday and decided to ship in Marcus Faison.
Faison, listed as 6-foot-5, is a Belgian-American playing for the Belgium national team. He is expected to arrive today and join the Boosters immediately to prepare for the clash with No. 1 Rain or Shine.
Basden helped the Boosters to a 5-4 card.
MERALCO 94—West 26, Cardona 24, Hugnatan 14, Mercado 10, Reyes 6, Taulava 6, Macapagal 4, Ross 2, Artadi 2, Bulawan 0.
POWERADE 86—Sneed 29, David 22, Casio 9, Salvador 7, Anthony 6, Guevarra 4, Tugade 4, Adducul 3, Belasco 2, Martinez 0, Lingganay 0, Vanlandingham 0.
Quarters: 18-25, 44-45, 69-60, 94-86