And that is what Darnell Jackson did in the clutch, draining two baskets that lifted Meralco past Rain or Shine, 94-91 in Game 1 of their quarterfinals series in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Monday, April 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Jackson bailed us out with those two big shots to salvage a victory against a very tough ROS team. You don’t leave it in the hands of the referee. You play on. You are in control of your destiny,” Gregorio reminded his troops after being able survive in a game where they gave away 7 more fouls.
Jackson fired 31 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists including two baskets in the final 1:09 that transformed a 90-91 deficit into a 94-91 victory for the Bolts. Gary David added 27 points, scoring all but 5 in the second half and draining 4 of 8 triples.
“Gary knows how to win in playoff situations. He realizes he has to improve his accuracy. We cannot win games if we fire blanks,” added Gregorio on his main shooter.
The Bolts took the series opener and are looking to close out the series on Wednesday, April 23.
The Elasto Painters had control of the first half, playing with more aggressiveness despite the fatigue brought by playing less than 24 hours ago.
Paul Lee paced Rain or Shine with 9 points entering halftime, as they took a 44-49 margin.
However, David rifled 11 third quarter points after, including three from long distance; Jackson then punched 7 straight, giving Meralco a 68-60 advantage.
But resiliency showed for Rain or Shine, who battled back behind Lee and Wayne Chism. An 11-1 run towards the end of the 3rd gave ROS the lead back, 71-69.
Chris Tiu drained three more long range bombs in the fourth, giving coach Yeng Guiao’s troops some breathing room at 86-82 with under 6 minutes left.
Meralco played catch-up from that point until the final two minutes, where Jackson would take charge.
He first scored a closely-contested shot from deep to make it 92-91, with 1:09 remaining.
The Elasto Painters were not able to convert on the other end, as Jackson wasted away time in the next possession before drilling a jumper with just 10.2 ticks to go, 94-91.
ROS went to Paul Lee in the last possession but he was badly hounded by Cliff Hodge’s unforgiving defense, throwing away a forced shot that failed to hit the mark.
Gregorio however is wary that they’ve failed to cross the semifinals despite having a 1-0 edge twice already, so they have to go all out on Wednesday and be ready for Rain or Shine’s comeback.
“We’ve been in this situation before but were not able to close it. Now, with more intelligence, hopefully we can advance,” he added.
Meralco (94) – Jackson 30, David 27, Dillinger 15, Hodge 9, Wilson 5, Timberlake 4, Hugapnatan 4, Ildefonso 0, Sena 0.
Rain or Shine (91) – Chism 27, Lee 15, Arana 10, Tiu 10, Almazan 9, Chan 8, Norwood 8, Nuyles 2, Rodriguez 2, Belga 0, Cruz 0, Tang, Teng 0.
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