Ginebra survives Meralco sans Caguioa down the stretchBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—Ginebra squandered a huge lead but hung tough down the stretch to slip past Meralco, 84-81, Friday in the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Kings were leading by nine with a little over two minutes to play, but gave the Bolts enough space to execute a 9-2 run and trim their lead to two, 81-83.
Ginebra, which played sans Mark Caguioa in the last 3:24, got a lucky break when Meralco couldn’t knock down a game-tying triple in the final 25 seconds.
“It’s a scary win, it’s our fault because we relaxed on defense. Daming turnovers at simpleng tira na lang nilalandi pa,” said a disappointed head coach Alfrancis Chua.
The Kings were nearly doomed by 25 turnovers and 18 missed freethrows, 10 of which from import Vernon Macklin.
Down the stretch, Meralco started purposely fouling Macklin to make him go to the stripe.
But Chua said he had no plans of taking his import out despite the Bolts’ ‘Hack-a-Mack’ strategy.
“Pag inalis ko yung import ko dahil sa ginagawa nila, para ko rin tinatanggal yung kumpyansya nung import namin,” said Chua of Macklin who finished with 23 points and 22 rebounds.
Caguioa added 21 points but went to the Ginebra dugout with still a little under four minutes to go with what was initially ruled as a hyperextended knee.
Eric Dawson, meanwhile, paced the Bolts with 31 points and 21 rebounds, but his monster effort still wasn’t enough to help Meralco get over its flat start.
The Bolts constantly tried to make a run in the fourth, but they only came closest to taking over the lead with 25.6 seconds left on a triple by Chris Ross.