Meralco Bolts bounce back, rip Air21 ExpressBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco got back on the winning track following an 85-72 win over Air21 Sunday in the 38th PBA Philippine Cup at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Sol Mercado led the way with 24 points while Mac Cardona bounced back after a sub-par performance the last time with 18 points.
But for head coach Ryan Gregorio, it was all about his squad’s defense.
“I think we defended well today, we defended Air21 to below 75 points,” commended Gregorio.
“We were able to bounce back real strong.”
The Express were still in the game up to the opening minutes of the final period before the Bolts surged ahead.
Reynel Hugnatan nailed an elbow jumper that gave Meralco a double-digit lead as part of the Bolts 12-1 run that sealed the game.
Meralco’s prized rookie Cliff Hodge was held scoreless but filling the void, the veterans stepped up.
Hugnatan notched a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, including his 1,000th career offensive rebound while Sunday Salvacion, known for his shooting touch, contributed at the defensive end.
“Sunday did a good job defensively against Canaleta and Wilson, said Gregorio.
“We like our position right now. We’re in the top four. We just have to sustain our efforts,” added Gregorio, whose team improved to 3-2.
The Bolts led by as much as 22, 85-63, on two free throws by Mercado.
John Wilson paced the Express, who dropped to 1-4, with 16 points.