By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Meralco Bolts finished their PBA Philippine Cup elimination round campaign on Wednesday with an 80-73 victory over also-rans Northport Batang Pier and in the process fortified their position in the quarterfinals.
It was an end-to-end domination by the Bolts (7-4) over the undermanned Batang Pier (1-10), who played sans some of its key players in their final game of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga.
The win thrust Meralco to a share of third spot along with the TNT Tropang Giga, Alaska Aces and San Miguel Beermen, as of this writing, and it was awaiting the results of the two games later on Wednesday to determine where they place in the quarterfinals with the quotient system to break ties in effect.
Five players finished in double digits for Meralco in the win, led by Bong Quinto with 14, followed by Chris Newsome and Raymond Almazan with 11 points apiece.
Guards Baser Amer and Trevis Jackson, meanwhile, had 10 points each.
For Northport, which played without Christian Standhardinger and Sean Anthony, it was Jervy Cruz who showed the way with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.
Still unsure of which team they will face in the quarterfinals, Meralco coach Norman Black said they are going to prepare for whoever their opponents would be.
“Right now, we still don’t know who we will face, but we are looking at some scenarios and we’re just going to prepare whoever it is,” he said.
NLEX ENDS BID ON A HIGH NOTE
Meanwhile, the NLEX Road Warriors ended their Philippine Cup campaign on a high note by defeating the Terrafirma Dyip, 127-101, in the opening game on Wednesday.
Already eliminated entering the match, NLEX (5-6) made sure that it would exit the tournament “bubble” with a victory and have something to build on for the next season.
The Road Warriors found themselves in a tight contest early on before they pushed on the gas pedal and left the Dyip in the dust on their way to the victory.
Kiefer Ravena led the way for NLEX in their final game of the season, finishing 23 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.
Raul Soyud had 16 points while veteran Asi Taulava, in what could be his final game in the PBA, came off the bench and scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds for the Road Warriors, who made a late push for a quarterfinal spot, winning four of their last five matches, after a struggling start to the tournament.
“The first half of our elimination round was disappointing. We did well in the second half when we started winning. In the bubble, adaptation and adjustment are very important. We didn’t make them early enough. That’s why we fell short. If we have two or three games more, I felt we’d still get better,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao in summing up their campaign.
Terrafirma, for its part, finished the tournament with a 1-10 record.