ERIC Dawson took over for Meralco at the crunch last night and keyed an 88-85 decision of San Mig Coffee that moved the Bolts within another quarterfinal win of dethroning the Mixers from the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Dawson scored the Bolts’ final four points from the stripe inside the final 3:17 and grabbed crucial rebounds along the way, with his 18th board coming off an intentional missed free throw by Denzel Bowles.
“We’re climbing on his back, riding the wave and letting him lead us,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said of his prized import. “I don’t know what he is made of, he’s not limping at all (despite suffering a scary slip against Rain or Shine on Wednesday).”
Talk ‘N Text, getting superb efforts from its local nucleus, also took a 1-0 lead over fellow powerhouse Petron Blaze after a 100-93 victory in the nightcap.
Ryan Reyes had two crucial treys in the fourth quarter, including the one that put the game away, 98-90, heading into the final 26 seconds as the Tropang Texters survived the Boosters despite a mediocre game from import Jerome Jordan.
Jordan, the 7-foot former New York Knick in the NBA, scored just 11 points and had just five rebounds—an output which coach Norman Black said he could get in five minutes when he was playing.
“You can’t expect the locals to come out and carry us every night,” Black said. “I just need to get the best out of him. It’s too late now to think of changing imports.”
Dawson finished with 25 points and Ronjay Buenafe and Sunday Salvacion had three triples each and wound up with 13 apiece for the Bolts, who put themselves in the very same position they were against the Mixers here last season.
And this time, Gregorio knows exactly what to do.
“We (also) won Game 1 with Earl Barron, and I thought we celebrated early,” Gregorio said, referring to a 103-81 bamboozling they dealt the Mixers before losing the next two games by 10 points each.
“Now we know better,” Gregorio said. “There’s no reason to celebrate.”
Bowles led the Mixers with 37 points, 13 of them in the first period as San Mig took an early 26-14 lead.
Meanwhile, Alaska and Rain or Shine, seeded 1-2 in the playoffs, respectively, clash against separate foes today looking for that one win that would both send them to the Final Four outright.
MERALCO 88—Dawson 25, Buenafe 13, Salvacion 13, Manuel 8, Cardona 8, Ross 7, Hugnatan 6, Hodge 4, Reyes 3, Artadi 1.
SAN MIG COFFEE 85—Bowles 37, Mallari 12, Simon 9, Yap 8, Pingris 7, Barroca 6, Devance 6, Gaco 0, Najorda 0, Reavis 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarters: 16-26, 47-43, 70-66, 88-85
TALK ‘N TEXT 100—De Ocampo 22, Reyes 16, Fonacier 14, Jordan 11, Castrro 11, Peek 11, Al-Hussaini 8, Alapag 3, Dillinger 2, Carey 2, Aban 0.
PETRON 93—Sims 22, Lassiter 17, Fajardo 13, Tubid 11, Miranda 9, Santos 8, Cabagnot 7, Washington 4, Lutz 2, Pena 0.
Quarters: 21-19, 41-41, 72-69, 100-93