Meralco escapes Ginebra to force semis Game 5
MANILA, Philippines — Meralco drew heroic plays from Reynel Hugnatan and Raymond Almazan late to top Barangay Ginebra, 83-80, and force a deciding Game 5 in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Wednesday.
Hugnatan nailed the go-ahead jumper, 81-80, off a set up by Chris Newsome with 15.5 seconds left while Almazan rejected Stanley Pringle’s potential game-winning basket near the rim in the ensuing play.
“We really worked together this game,” Hugnatan said in Filipino after finishing with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“That last play was for [Newsome], but he saw me [open] and I did not think about anything other than taking that shot.”
The winner-take-all for a spot in the finals is on Friday.
Newsome shot 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. He also collected 11 rebounds, five assists and six steals.
Pringle led the Ginebra with 18 points and six assists while Japeth Aguilar scored all of his 12 points in the fourth quarter including back-to-back baskets that put the Gin Kings ahead, 80-79, with 1:25 remaining.
Meralco head coach Norman Black said keeping Pringle in check in Game 5 is among the Bolts’ top priorities if they are to advance to their first ever all-Filipino Cup finals.
“We have to make sure that we don’t allow him (Pringle) to bust out in Game 5 the way he did in Game 3,” said Black, whose squad blew a 15-point lead.