En­er­gized Bolts seek to com­plete quar­ters up­set

Business World - - Sports World - By Michael An­gelo S. Murillo Se­nior Re­porter

LEFT with an open­ing to ad­vance to the semi­fi­nals of the Philip­pine Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Gov­er­nors’ Cup, the Meralco Bolts are out to make full use of it when they meet the Phoenix Fuel Mas­ters in the rub­ber match of their quar­ter­fi­nal tiff to­day at the Smart Araneta Col­i­seum.

Suc­cess­fully staved off elim­i­na­tion with a 90-74 vic­tory on Wed­nes­day, the Bolts, seeded sev­enth in the quar­ter­fi­nals and car­ry­ing a twice-to-win hand­i­cap in the bat­tle, are now fight­ing on equal foot­ing with the sec­ond seeds Fuel Mas­ters in their win­ner-take-all set for 7 p.m.

In win­ning the game and forc­ing a rub­ber match, Meralco used a solid third-quar­ter ef­fort where it outscored Phoenix, 33-20, to turn a two-point deficit, 35-33, at the half to a 66-55 ad­van­tage en­ter­ing the fourth pe­riod.

The Fuel Mas­ters tried to rally back in the fi­nal quar­ter but had lit­tle suc­cess as they failed to hit their mark.

Im­port Allen Durham led the Bolts with 26 points and 14 re­bounds with Chris New­some adding 16 points.

Baser Amer had 14 points and six as­sists while Nino Canaleta and Mike Tolo­mia came off the bench to con­tribute nine points each.

It was the fifth straight vic­tory for Meralco, stretch­ing back from late in the clas­si­fi­ca­tion phase that al­lowed it to en­ter the play­offs via the back­door.

But while they are happy to live to fight an­other day, Meralco coach Nor­man Black said they are not out of the woods yet and that they have to stay ready and go for it as they be­lieve Phoenix will make the ad­just­ments and not just al­low the Bolts to have an up­set.

“It’s just one game and we need two. They fought very hard to get that twice-to-win ad­van­tage,” Mr. Black said.

“We just have to go out, try to win one more game to make it to the semi­fi­nals,” he added.

For Phoenix, it will try re­cal­i­brate af­ter strug­gling from the field through­out the con­test last time around.

Only two play­ers man­aged to score in dou­ble-dig­its for the Fuel Mas­ters — im­port Eu­gene Phelps who had 27 points and Calvin Abueva 18 — with the team col­lec­tively shoot­ing just 30% (28-of-93) for the game.

The win­ner of the quar­ter­fi­nal pair­ing be­tween Phoenix and Meralco will face off with the Alaska Aces, who elim­i­nated the pow­er­house San Miguel Beer­men, 96-85, also on Wed­nes­day.

Alaska car­ried a twice-to­beat ad­van­tage but saw no need to use it as it went for the jugu­lar at the first in­stance.

Mean­while, play­ing in the other semi­fi­nals are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Barangay Gine­bra San Miguel Kings and Mag­no­lia Hot­shots Pam­bansang Manok in an­other “Manila Cla­sico” joust.

The semi­fi­nal round of the PBA Gov­er­nors’ Cup, which will be a best-of-five af­fair, be­gins this week­end.

ALVIN S. GO

THE MERALCO BOLTS look to com­plete an up­set of the higher-seeded Phoenix Fuel Mas­ters in a rub­ber match of their PBA Gov­er­nors’ Cup quar­ter­fi­nal bat­tle to­day.

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