DESPERATE times call for desperate measures.
Meralco showed its survival skills as it staved off elimination, upsetting Rain or Shine, 82-72, in a dominant win to snap its six-game losing streak and stayed alive in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup last night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Three starters led the charge for the Bolts, with Chris Newsome grabbing a game-high 19 points, four rebounds and six assists, while Cliff Hodge had a monster double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds and Jonathan Uyloan also had a splendid game of 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The win was huge for Meralco, which not only stayed alive, but lifted the Bolts to 10th place and out of the cellar with an improved 3-7 card.
The loss was costly for the slumping Painters as they are now in a four-way logjam with Phoenix, Blackwater and TNT KaTropa from third to sixth places on similar 5-4 marks. It was also Rain or Shine’s second straight defeat, which might have jeopardized its bid of making the Top 2.
Only the top eight teams will move forward in the next round with the bottom four getting the boot.
In a desperate need to survive, the Bolts showed the requisite urgency right from the get-go, as they didn’t need any warm-up to take control of the contest.
They launched a vital 25-11 blast to end the opening period to instantly carve a commanding 35-20 double-digit lead heading into the second stanza.
Meralco kept its big lead at the half, 49-35, and eventually never looked back as it had its best game of the tournament.
James Yap led the Painters with a team-high 17 points, but didn’t get much support form his pals.
Action shifts to the Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu today as league-leading San Miguel Beer (8-1) and second-running GlobalPort (5-3) figure in a battle of the top two teams at 5 p.m.
Not much will be at stake for the Beermen as they are already in the quarterfinals and have already secured a Top 2 finish along with a twice-to-beat incentive in the next phase. Still, they want to remain hot as they seek their eighth straight victory.
The Batang Pier, on the other hand, wants to remain in second and enhance its chance of ending up in the Top 2 as well once the dust settles.
Tomorrow, two more critical encounters take place at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City as Alaska (4-4) and Mahindra (2-6) tango at 4:30 p.m., while Phoenix Petroleum (5-4) and Barangay Ginebra (4-4) follow suit at 6:45 p.m.
The scores:MERALCO 82—Newsome 19, Hodge 17, Uyloan 14, Al-Hussaini 10, Chua 9, Hugnatan 4, Dillinger 3, Daquioag 2, Grey 2, Amer 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 72—Yap 17, Ponferada 11, Chan 9, Cruz 9, Belga 7, Trollano 7, Washington 6, Tiu 4, Norwood 2, Ahanmisi 0, Matias 0.
Quarterscores: 35-20, 49-35, 68-56, 82-72.
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