Meralco cuts off Ginebra
BOCAUE—Returning to the site of one of the most painful losses in the history of its franchise, Meralco got some measure of revenge while staying alive in the playoff race in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Journeyman center Jason Ballesteros scored on a putback and split his free throws at crunch time as the Bolts hacked out a thrilling 84-82 victory over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings at Philippine Arena Sunday night here.
Acquired at the start of the season as Meralco shored up its roster following a spate of injuries on the likes of Ranidel de Ocampo and Cliff Hodge, Ballesteros finished with seven points and 16 rebounds as the Bolts pulled level with TNT KaTropa and Blackwater with a 4-6 record for ninth spot.
More importantly, the Bolts gave themselves a chance of catching the last bus to the quarterfinals with a victory against the same team that handed them a Game 7 loss in the Governors’ Cup finals last year.
Ballesteros was at the right place at the right time for the putback off a Chris Newsome miss with 35 seconds remaining. He stood his ground against Japeth Aguilar and came up with his last rebound before drawing a foul with 17 seconds left.
It was Kevin Alas’ turn to shine for NLEX in the other game.
Alas continued his inspired play as NLEX turned back Blackwater, 93-90, for its fourth straight victory that also propelled the Road Warriors to a playoff spot.
Alas sizzled in the final period with 16 of his career-best 25 points as the Road Warriors climbed to 6-4 for a tie of fourth spot with Alaska.
Rookie Kiefer Ravena also knocked in four triples on his way to 23 points.
“Kevin Alas saved the day for us,” coach Yeng Guiao said of the former Letran star.
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