Meralco pulled off a monumental upset, turning back second-placed Rain or Shine, 82-72 to end a six-game losing skid, Friday, in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Leaning behind their superb 35-20 first quarter start, the Bolts took control of the game and went on cruise control to fan their quarterfinal hopes in this stage of the tournament.
“We’re keeping our hopes up. We’re trying to win one more game and hope somebody ends up with four wins. We don’t have control of our fate anymore,” said coach Norman Black, as Meralco stayed alive despite its 3-7 card.
Chris Newsome paced the Bolts with 19 points, six assists, and four rebounds, while Cliff Hodge registered a double-double of 17 markers and 16 boards, on top of four blocks.
Jonathan Uyloan also shot 4-of-10 from beyond the arc, together with the the dagger three in the final minute to seal the deal, as he finished with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Everything was just clicking for Meralco, that even when James Yap pulled the Elasto Painters within eight, 77-68 in the final 3:35, its defense held on and paved the way for Uyloan to connect from the corner in the clutch.
“I’m happy we won,” sighed Black. “It’s not a great feeling going home in traffic after a loss. At least this time, the traffic will be a lot better.”
The Elasto Painters squandered their chance of advancing to the quarterfinals and dropped to a four-team tie for third at 5-4, carrying identical slates with Blackwater, Phoenix, and TNT.
Yap led Rain or Shine with 17 points on 2-of-8 shooting from threes, alongside four rebounds and three assists, while Jewel Ponferrada had 11 markers and seven boards off the bench in the defeat.
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, Ponferrada 11, Chan 9, Cruz 9, Belga 7, Trollano 7, Washington 6, Tiu 4, Norwood 2, Ahanmisi 0, Matias 0.
Quarters: 35-20, 49-35, 68-56, 82-72.