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Bolts keep hopes alive

Meralco survives Phoenix; GlobalPort trips TNT
By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 05:40 AM February 15, 2018

Phoenix’s Jeff Chan drives for a layup against Meralco’s Jason Ballesteros (left) and KG Canaleta. —SHERWIN VARDELEON

Meralco coach Norman Black wanted his Bolts to treat the clash against the Phoenix Fuel Masters as a championship game. He was glad his players responded to the challenge.

With the threat of another early exit hanging over their heads, the Bolts slipped past the Fuel Masters, 92-90, last Tuesday night to stay alive in the playoff race in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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Garvo Lanete fired 24 points built on four triples, while Cliff Hodge had 17 points before leaving the game due to a knee injury as the Bolts survived a late onslaught by the Fuel Masters, who almost snatched the win at the buzzer only for Jeff Chan to miss on his three-point attempt.

“For us, it was a championship game,” said Black, whose team improved to 3-6. “That was a really hard fought game. I’m just happy that the guys stayed in the game and kept fighting up until the end.”

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The Bolts stopped their losing streak at three games, while keeping the playoff race interesting with eight teams still in the hunt for the remaining five playoff spots.

Later, GlobalPort leaned on a stellar game from Nico Elorde to repulse a listless TNT, 99-84, and boost its own playoff hopes, while pushing Ka Tropa out of the quarterfinal picture.

Playing his finest game yet, Elorde tallied 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Batang Pier, who climbed up to seventh with a 4-4 record.

It was Ka Tropa’s third straight loss in a week that also saw them suffer a double-digit defeat to Barangay Ginebra. Ka Tropa fell to ninth at 4-6.

“We started aggressively because our mind-set was TNT has already played three games in a week so we wanted to take advantage and push the tempo,” said GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio.

Phoenix came roaring back from a 16-point deficit early and nearly erased an 87-92 lead in the final 1:23 of the match. Jaypee Mendoza’s hustle play gave the Fuel Masters one final crack to steal the win, but Chris Newsome bothered Chan as he shot the potential game-winning triple.

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TAGS: Meralco Bolts, Norman Black, PBA Philippine Cup, Phoenix Fuel Masters
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