Ronjay Buenafe shot all his 19 points in the fourth quarter and keyed a 112-104 Meralco victory over Barako Bull last night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-1 off guard, who came into the game averaging 8.2 points a night, hit all his three triple attempts in a telling spurt early in the fourth as Bolts opened a 99-87 lead from 83-80 going into the final 4:30.
Buenafe then put the icing on the Bolts’ fourth victory in seven games by hitting the team’s final five points from the free throw line and inflicting a fourth straight loss on the Energy in a 3-5 card.
“You just don’t know who is going to light it up for our team,” coach Ryan Gregorio said. “Ronjay just answered the call.”
Buenafe’s fourth-quarter performance was the second biggest by anyone in the import-laced tournament, next only to Air21’s KG Canaleta’s 20-point last quarter outburst in a losing effort to Talk ‘N Text.
Eric Dawson paced the Bolts with 27 points and 20 rebounds, but Meralco couldn’t pull away despite his sizzling third quarter show as the Energy trailed by just a point going into the payoff frame.
Meralco’s total was its biggest in the tournament with the Bolts failing to breach the 100-point barrier in their first six games.
Evan Brock was a monster for the Energy, finishing with 37 points and 25 rebounds. The hard-working Barako Bull import fired 10 of his total in the fourth quarter.
Josh Urbiztondo was taken out of his sweet spot by the Meralco defense and shot a conference-low four points after going 0-of-5 from three-point range and 2-of-5 from two-point range.
Chris Ross missed his first career triple double by just two rebounds, finishing with 17 points and 11 assists with Reynel Hugnatan and Mac Cardona combining for another 25 points for Meralco.
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