Bolts bounce back, force decider vs Aces
Meralco made sure its second half effort won’t be the same as last game that even Jared Dillinger’s heave from three-quarter length of the court to end the third quarter still found its way to the bucket.
That 3-pointer from the parking lot gave the Bolts a double-digit lead on their way to an 86-70 win over Alaska on Monday night, forcing a do-or-die Game 5 in their 2016 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“This game is basically just about trying to live to fight another day. We only focused in the last 24 hours to force a Game 5 and see what happens,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
“We really got back to basics as far as our defense is concerned. We made a few adjustments in this series that haven’t work very well and we went back to the basics and our defense really held up for us.”
Dillinger uncorked nine of his 17 points in that crucial third quarter while Cliff Hodge added a double-double of 14 markers, 12 boards, and three assists.
“My local players stepped up particularly JD. He hit some big shots for us down the stretch. Cliff Hodge gave us a lot of hustle tonight,” said Black.
Bryan Faundo also stepped up with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Anjo Caram got eight markers.
Import Arinze Onuaku also responded to his coach’s challenge with 16 points, 16 rebounds, and five blocks.
“Arinze had a lot more energy tonight, particularly in the defensive end. He was really a force in the paint as far as our defense is concerned and he controlled the rebounds for us,” said Black.
It was a complete role reversal this time out, as the Aces, who are eyeing to close the series, were caught napping in the second half as Dillinger and Onuaku helped Meralco pull away.
“It was an all-around effort from the players, but it’s just tying to fight one more day. Now that we’re here, we’ll try to win Game 5,” Black said.
Game 5 is set on Wednesday, still at the Big Dome, as Rain or Shine, which clinched the first Finals berth on Sunday, will have to wait longer.
Rob Dozier paced Alaska with 18 points, 15 rebounds, and two rejections, while Calvin Abueva and RJ Jazul ended up with 10 markers each.
MERALCO 86 – Dillinger 17, Onuaku 16, Hodge 14, Faundo 12, Caram 8, Newsome 7, Alapag 6, Hugnatan 6, Bono 0, Ry. Buenafe 0, Amer 0.
ALASKA 70 – Dozier 18, Abueva 10, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 8, Baclao 6, Thoss 6, Banchero 5, Exciminiano
3, Baguio 2, Dela Rosa 2, Dela Cruz 0, Eman 0.
Quarters: 19-16, 36-34, 62-52, 86-70
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