Bolick delivers winner as NorthPort zaps Meralco to stay in hunt for top seed
MANILA, Philippines–Rookie Robert Bolick nailed a tough layup with three seconds left to help push NorthPort past Meralco, 93-92, in a nip-and-tuck contest Friday night in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
The third overall pick of the draft blew past two Bolts defenders for a go-ahead basket, fanning the chances of Batang Pier to wrest the top spot as they improved to 9-2.
Bolts guard Chris Newsome missed a reverse layup in the next sequence that would’ve sent his squad back to the win column after a four-game slide. Instead, Meralco settled for a 3-7 slate, with its chances of advancing into the quarterfinals even bleaker.
“It’s all about our team effort. My players probably wanted to come off a strong finish as we head to the playoffs,” NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio said. “Let’s see what will happen in the playoffs. We’re just waiting.”
Prince Ibeh had another double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Sol Mercado and Nico Elorde tossed in 10 or more in the scoring effort.
“Hopefully Sean (Anthony) is able [to rejoin the team by then],” the outspoken mentor said of his skipper who was nursing an ankle injury.
Newsome paced Meralco with 21 points, while new but undersized import Delroy James added 17 more in the losing stand where three more Bolts scored in double digits.
NorthPort’s victory renders the magic number of wins needed for a quarterfinal entry to just five. With this development, Magnolia and Rain or Shine—both enjoying 5-5 records—are getting free rides into the next round.
Meralco will still have one last foe to tackle—powerhouse San Miguel Beer, which is cramming for victories to secure a comfortable spot in the draw. They tangle July 17 at Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
NorthPort (93) – Bolick 18, Ibeh 15, Mercado 12, Elorde 10, Ferrer 9, Lanete 9, Tautuaa 6, Flores 5, Cruz 5, Taha 4, Arana 0, Gabayni 0.
Meralco (92) – Newsome 21, James 17, Amer 16, Hodge 13, de Ocampo 10, Faundo 4, Almazan 4, Quinto 4, Tolomia 2, Hugnatan 1, Salva 0, Pinto 0, Canaleta 0, Jackson 0.
Quarters: 22-28, 45-43, 62-67, 93-92.
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WATCH: Coach Pido after NorthPort escaped Meralco 93-92 to finish its elimination round schedule. #PBA2019
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