Petron Blaze loses 22-point lead, escapes Meralco

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Rey Guevarra blocked by Renaldo Balkman PBA IMAGE / Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines—Renaldo Balkman atoned for his crucial error with a key defensive play as Petron Blaze escaped Meralco, 88-86, Wednesday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Balkman hounded Meralco guard Chris Ross in the waning seconds of the game leaving Ross with no choice but to give up the ball to rookie Vic Manuel, who missed a long three as time expired.

The six-foot-six Balkman turned the ball over with 10.2 seconds left in the previous play after the leather hit his right calf before going out of bounds that led to Manuel’s potential game winner.

Petron Blaze survived despite missing its first 12 shots from the field en route to a forgetful three-of-17 shooting in the final frame.

The Boosters, who led by as much as 22, 76-54, were scoreless for more than six minutes of the fourth period before Chico Lanete uncorked a much-needed trey for an 80-73 lead, with only 3:50 remaining-ending a 17-0 surge by the Bolts.

Ross unloaded nine of his 12 points in the final 2:45, including a quick three-pointer from the top of the key, which put Meralco to within a thread, 86-87, with 25.6 seconds left.

Petron failed to inbound the ball to a good free throw shooter in the ensuing play as Denok Miranda went one-of-two at the line with 23.9 ticks left.

Ross missed on a drive after blowing past Balkman, who got the defensive rebound before turning it over, with 10.2 seconds remaining.

June Mar Fajardo, who said they got complacent after building a commanding lead, notched a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds to go along with three blocks while Balkman topscored with 26 points for Petron, which chalked up its third straight win after losing its first game.

The Boosters played without starting point guard Alex Cabagnot due to sprained ankle.

The Bolts, who drew 24 points from import Eric Dawson, lost their third game in four starts.

THE SCORES:

Petron 88 – Balkman 26, Fajardo 16, Miranda 11, Lassiter 9, Santos 6, Lanete 5, Yeo 5, Washington 5, Tubid 5, Pena 0.

Meralco 86 – Dawson 24, Cardona 13, Ross 12, Hodge 10, Manuel 9, Guevarra 8, Hugnatan 5, Buenafe 3, Reyes 2, Timberlake 0, Artadi 0.

Quarters: 22-17, 51-34, 76-54, 88-86

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