By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE late resurgence of the Meralco Bolts in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup continued on Sunday after beating the (ROS) Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 91-82, in league action at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Engaged in a virtual slugfest, the Bolts delivered accordingly, delivering the blows needed in the end against the Elasto Painters to book their third straight win in the season-ending PBA tournament to improve to 4-6 and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The contest got off to a slow pace as the two teams struggled early to get their offense going.
The count stood at 6-all midway into the opening quarter and stayed tight at 19-19 after first-period play.
The nip-and-tuck nature of the match continued at the start of the second frame until Rain or Shine created some separation, 37-31 at the halfway point behind Rey Nambatac and Ed Daquioag.
Meralco though would pick up its game after, led by Chris Newsome, to overhaul the Elasto Painters’ lead, 44-43, by the halftime break.
Rain or Shine had more fluidity on offense as the third frame commenced.
The Elasto Painters raced to a 55-49 advantage with just four minutes lapsing.
Meralco, however, no sooner made the adjustment and came back to level things at 59-all at the 3:12 mark.
More jostling ensued after with the two teams eventually knotted at 65-all at the end of three quarters.
With the outcome of the match very much open, the two teams fight it off, looking to establish control in the payoff canto.
The Bolts held a two-point lead, 76-74, with 7:46 to go, padding it to five, 79-74, two minutes later after an and-one play by import Allen Durham.
Meralco did not stop there as it stepped on the gas pedal thereafter to speed to an 88-77 advantage with 2:31 left on the clock.
Rain or Shine attempted to make its way back but the Bolts did not allow them to, hanging on to park the victory and send the Elasto Painters (2-6) to back-to-back losses.
Mr. Durham led Meralco with 19 points, 20 rebounds and six assists with Mike Tolomia coming off the bench to score 17.
Norbert Torres paced Rain or Shine with 16 points while import Terrence Watson had 14 points and 13 boards.
“It’s another solid defensive showing for us. Everybody rotated well and played as a group. On the other end we had balanced scoring and Allen (Durham) did not have to do a lot,” said Meralco coach Norman Black as he made his assessment of their win after the game.
“But we are not out of the woods yet. We have a 12-days break before we next play and hopefully we don’t miss a lot of momentum,” added Mr. Black, whose wards play their last game of the eliminations on Nov. 4 versus the San Miguel Beermen.
The Meralco Bolts are hoping to sweep their remaining games to at least get a shot at a tie and playoff for the last quarterfinal spot.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo