Bolts roll back Aces, clinch playoff bonus
JIMMY Alapag responded with the most crucial baskets in a tight endgame Friday night and led Meralco to a 107-101 victory over Alaska that clinched for the Bolts a twice-to-beat privilege in the first round of the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 5-foot-8 point dynamo capped off his 16 points with seven straight points that broke a 98-all tie as the Bolts stayed in the lead with an 8-2 record and advanced to the playoffs as the second seeds at worst.
Alapag hit 5-of-7 free throws and a left-handed layup after dusting off Alaska import Shane Edwards with a brilliant crossover, ushering the Bolts to a 105-100 lead going into the final 19.5 seconds.
The win was Meralco’s first over Alaska since Norman Black took over as coach last year.
With the loss, Alaska dropped to 6-4, its chance at the playoff bonus now depending on San Miguel Beer losing its last two games. Otherwise, the best that the Aces could hope for is qualify as No. 3 and be in a best-of-three series with the sixth-ranked qualifier.
Arinze Onuaku scored 28 points and had 19 rebounds for the Bolts, who also drew 16 points from Jared Dillinger and 11 from rookie Chris Newsome.
Calvin Abueva paced the Aces with 27 points and nine boards, with import Shane Edwards proving ineffective with just 12 and seven in almost 39 minutes.
Meralco closes out its schedule against Barangay Ginebra next week and Black made it no secret that they would want to win that one, too.
“We need a win to give us some sort of momentum for the playoffs,” Black said.
GlobalPort earlier played the spoiler’s role to the hilt in their final game with a 125-118 decision of Phoenix Petroleum that knocked the Fuel Masters out of playoff contention.
Shawn Taggart scored 45 points that went with 18 rebounds and Terrence Romeo dropped 40 on the dumbfounded Phoenix defense as the Batang Pier ended their conference with a 3-8 card with Johnedel Cardel calling the shots.
Meanwhile, defending champion Tropang TNT clashes with Mahindra in a Petron Saturday Special game slated at Puerto Princesa Coliseum in Palawan, with the Texters seeking to stay in the middle of the standings.
GLOBALPORT 125—Taggart 45, Romeo 40, Taha 12, Mamaril 9, Fortuna 8, Jensen 7, Kramer 2, Washington 2, Semerad 0, Uyloan 0.
PHOENIX 118—Garcia 21, Pennisi 17, Baracael 14, Wilson 13, Intal 12, Pinkney 11, Brondial 10, Monfort 9, Lanete 8, Urbiztondo 3, Knuttel 0.
Quarters: 34-25, 65-59, 97-87, 125-118
MERALCO 107—Onuaku 28, Alapag 16, Dillinger 16, Newsome 11, Buenafe Ry 7, Hodge 7, Faundo 6, Amer 5, Hugnatan 4, Buenafe Ro 3, Bono 2, Caram 2, Ferriols 0.
ALASKA 101—Abueva 27, Manuel 13, Baguio 12, Banchero 12, Edwards 12, Jazul 12, Baclao 3, Excimiiano 3, Dela Rosa 2, Hontiveros 2, Thoss 2, Menk 1, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarters: 38-28, 65-54, 86-83, 107-101
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