PBA: Meralco sends Ginebra to the brink of elimination
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco may have just shut the door on Barangay Ginebra after taking the 79-66 win in its final game of the elimination round in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Thursday at DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Bolts, already assured of the twice-to-beat at No. 2, are heading into the playoffs with a 9-2 record while the defending champion Gin Kings dropped to 4-7.
Ginebra, which is tied with Phoenix and Terrafirma, now hopes that NorthPort wins its game against Alaska later in the day to get an eighth-place playoff with the Fuel Masters.
In the event that the Aces beat the Batang Pier, the Gin Kings will be eliminated from playoff contention making them the first defending champion since the 2000 Shell Turbo Chargers to not make the following year’s playoffs.
Meralco head coach Norman Black said the Bolts were only focused on the need to carry as much momentum into the quarterfinals.
“We really just wanted to have the momentum going into the playoffs,” said Black. “Our offense has been pretty good the last three games and it was nice to see our defense step up.”
“So far, you know, it’s been a balance of guys stepping up. Allein [Maliksi] was here, Mac [Belo] is here tonight.”
Carrying a slim 55-51 lead into the fourth, the Bolts upped the notch and mounted a 16-7 run that Chris Newsome capped off with a three-pointer for their 71-58 lead.
Maliksi and Belo led Meralco with identical 15-point and seven-rebound lines while Newsome added 10 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
Stanley Pringle led the Gin Kings with 19 points, four rebounds, and four steals.