Bolts overpower Aces for first win
MANILA, Philippines—Brian Butch drained six triples to finish with 27 points and lead Meralco to an authoritative 85-76 victory over Alaska Wednesday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-10 Butch also plucked down 17 rebounds and was an intimidating presence underneath for the Bolts, who gave their import a lot of local support and notched their first win in two games.
Alaska, whose offense never got going, lost for the second time in three games. Import Robert Dozier was held to just 17 points and Calvin Abueva fouled out after making just one basket.
Gary David was also big in the fourth quarter for the Bolts, who gutted out the win despite missing the services of its top two point guards, Jared Dillinger and Mike Cortez, who were out due to injuries.
Meralco, one of two teams that failed to survive the elimination round of the Philippine Cup won by San Mig Coffee, was in control practically the entire night and used one hot stretch early in the fourth period to pull away for good.
“We did a good job of competing today despite our obvious shortage in players,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said. “We were able to do the job because of defense. It was really our defense which spelled the difference.”
Reynel Hugnatan finished with 14 points and David wound up with 12 like Cliff Hodge, whose two free throws off Sonny Thoss with 4:28 remaining gave the Bolts a 78-69 lead.
Third string guard Anjo Caram, who was able to play 31 minutes, made a triple with 2:03 left that opened up an 84-72 lead to essentially put the game away for Meralco.
“The reminder (to Caram) pretty much was you’re not really going to get a lot of minutes if our point guards (Dillinger and Cortez) are there,” Gregorio said of his third-string quarterback. “But in their absence, he played well setting the plays.”
JV Casio paced the Aces with 19 points built around four triples and Dozier had 14 rebounds that also went with five assists.
Vic Manuel made his first appearance for Alaska after being dealt by Air21 for Aldrech Ramos, playing just 10 minutes but contributing six points and five rebounds.
MERALCO 85—Butch 27, Hugnatan 14, David 12, Hodge 12, Caram 7, Mandani 5, Ildefonso 4, Guevarra 2, Wilson 2, Al-Hussaini 0.
ALASKA 76—Casio 19, Dozier 17, Baguio 12, Thoss 10, Manuel 6, Jazul 4, Espinas 3, Reyes 2, Abueva 2, Dela Cruz 1, Hontiveros 0.
Quarters: 20-12, 37-33, 61-54, 85-76
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