MANILA, Philippines—Ronjay Buenafe came alive in the fourth quarter to help Meralco beat Barako Bull, 112-104, Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Buenafe scored all of his 19 points in the final frame as the Bolts went on a 14-2 run to pull away from an 85-all count.
“We were preparing ourselves defensively and it’s just a great relief that we won using our offensive arsenal,” said Meralco head coach Ryan Gregorio, whose team took care of the ball well with only six turnovers. “Nice to see Ronjay Buenafe heeding the call when we needed the points.”
Buenafe, who came into the game averaging just 8.2 points, sparked his team’s late breakaway with a three to make it, 88-85, as Meralco led for good.
Import Eric Dawson paced the Bolts with 27 points and 20 rebounds while counterpart Evan Brock led the Energy Cola with 37 points and 25 rebounds.
“We had a very good gameplan guarding their three-pointers. We did not allow Urbiztondo to take over and I think Brock got tired in the end,” Gregorio added.
Chris Ross also had an impressive outing with 17 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.
With Barako Bull going for one last push, Ross’ hustle made the difference down the stretch.
Ross, who also had four steals, stole the ball from Brock as he dove for the leather to secure possession for Meralco. He was then fouled and missed his second free throw but had the presence of mind to track down his miss to give his team another possession.
The fleet-footed guard sealed the Bolts fourth win in seven games at the line with two freebies, 106-95, with 53.1 seconds left.
Barako Bull slipped to 3-5 after winning its first two games.
MERALCO 112 – Dawson 27, Buenafe 19, Ross 17, Hugnatan 13, Cardona 12, Reyes 9, Salvacion 9, Hodge 4, Artadi 2, Manuel 0, Guevarra 0.
BARAKO 104 – Brock 37, Villanueva 16, Macapagal 16, Pennisi 14, Seigle 11, Urbiztondo 4, Maliksi 3, Anthony 3, Weinstein 0, Intal 0.
Quarters: 32-19, 48-51, 78-77, 112-104