Meralco regains power, pulls plug on Phoenix comeback
(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines – On Valentine's Day, the basketball gods showered some love on the Meralco Bolts as they put an end to a 3-game slump with a 92-90 win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum Wednesday, February 14.
Garvo Lanete finished with 24 points on an 8-of-15 shooting to energize the Bolts, who won for the first time in 3 weeks. Meralco improved to 3-6 but remained at 11th place.
The Bolts led by 7 points with 1:35 remaining following a Lanete jumper, 92-85, before the Fuel Masters made it a two-point game with 21.2 seconds left after a JP Mendoza freebie, 90-92.
Phoenix would then get the possession back in an attempt to score a game-tying or game-winning shot after Chris Newsome lost a jumpball to Mendoza. But Newsome made up for his blunder as he clamped down on Jeff Chan, who missed his last-second triple.
"That was really a hard-fought game, just happy with my guys staying in the game and kept fighting until the end," said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
Meralco mounted a 16-point lead in the maiden period, 29-13, and led by 14 points heading into the break, 54-50, but lost steam in the 3rd quarter as the Fuel Masters headed into the last frame with a 75-70 lead.
"When you see a big lead go and once the other team catches up, it takes a lot of willpower in the part of the players to say, 'No, we will win this game,' and that's what the players did tonight. We treated this game as if it was a championship game of the conference because for us it was a championship game," Black added.
Cliff Hodge chipped in 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, two steals and two blocks in the win before ending the game early after bumping his knee with Willie Wilson late in the 3rd quarter.
Wilson turned back the clock, registering 24 points and 8 rebounds but that wasn't enough as the Fuel Masters slipped to 4-5. They are now tied with the TNT KaTropa at 7th place.
Matthew Wright chalked up 16 points and 8 rebounds in the loss.
Meralco (92): Lanete 24, Hodge 17, Canaleta 9, Caram 9, Newsome 9, Tolomia 9, Hugnatan 6, Amer 5, Salva 4, Ballesteros 0, Baracael 0
Phoenix (90): Wilson 24, Wright 16, Jazul 13, Perkins 10, Chan 8, Mendoza 6, Dehesa 5, Intal 4, Kramer 4, Alolino 0, Chua 0, Eriobu 0
Quarter scores: 29-18, 54-40, 70-75, 92-90 – Rappler.com