Bolts alive and kicking

November 07, 2018

TWO-TIME PBA Governors’ Cup runner-up Meralco is alive and kicking.

With back-to-back Best Import winner Allen Durham leading the way, Meralco shocked No. 2 seed Phoenix, 99-74, in their quarterfinal playoff and lived to fight another day at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Bolts and the Fuel Masters will meet again at 7 p.m. on Friday to determine who  between them  will advance to the  semifinal series against either Alaska Milk or San Miguel Beer.

Durham asserted himself anew with  a  double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Bolts, who  have won five straight games to  keep alive their title bid in this  season-ending conference where  they finished  runners-up to Barangay Ginebra the  past two seasons.

The Bolts also avenged their 96-86 loss to Phoenix in the elimination round.

Understandably, Meralco coach Norman Black  was  pleased with   the  performance of his boys.

“Tonight was all about our defense, said Black. “From start to finish, we  were able to execute defensively.

“In the first  half, we struggled to score the basketball mainly because Phoenix is also a very good defensive team. We really clamped down better on defense and our shots started falling (in the second  half).”

The Bolts, who need to beat the Fuel Masters twice in the quarterfinals, relied on one big offensive push in the third period to secure the  all-important win.

Unable to get the job done in the first two quarters, the Bolts leaned on a crippling 12-0 run initiated by Durham,  Chris Newsome, Reynel  Hugnatan and Baser Amer  to open up a  60-45 advantage.

The y never looked back from there.

The  closest the  Fuel Masters could  get from there  was 63-72 on a two-handed slam dunk by import Eugene Phelps.

Phelps finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds while Calvin Abueva  added 18 points for Phoenix,  which finished with its lowest  output in a game in head coach  Louie Alas’ tenure.

PBA statistics chief Fidel Mangonon said Phoenix’s 72 points  tied its  the lowest it scored in a loss to Talk N Text  in the 2018 Philippine Cup.

The scores:

Meralco (90)--  Durham 26, Newsome 16, Amer 14, Tolomia 9, Canaleta 9, Hugnatan 7, Salva 5, Dillinger 2, Faundo 2, Hodge 0, Ballesteros 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0.

Phoenix (74)--  Phelps 27, Abueva 18, Perkins 9, Wright 8, Chua 6, Intal 4, Jazul 2, Revilla 0, Kramer 0, Wilson 0, Mendoza 0.

Quarterscores: 15-17, 33-35, 66-55, 90-74.