The dynasty ends: Meralco eliminates Purefoods
MANILA, Philippines - A new PBA champion will be crowned at the conclusion of the 2014-2015 PBA Philippine Cup Playoffs.
The Purefoods Star Hotshots' championship dynasty came to an end on Thursday, December 11, as they fell at the hands of the Meralco Bolts, 77-65, in phase one of the Philippine Cup quarterfinals at the Cuneta Astrodome.
"This is a huge win for the Meralco program," Bolts head coach Norman Black said after the game. "It's a big win for our program and it's a big step for our program," he later added.
It was the first in 5 times the Hotshots lost a playoffs series to the Bolts, who were led by Jared Dillinger's 14 points and 4 rebounds. Cliff Hodge also played well, putting up 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists to help dethrone the 4-time defending PBA champions.
"We played with a lot of heart today [and] a lot of guts," Black complimented his team during the post-game presser. The victory also served as payback for Meralco's head coach, whose Talk 'N Text teams were eliminated in each conference of the 2013-2014 PBA season by Cone's SMC Coffee Mixers, although he did mention he doesn't take those defeats personally.
"I don't really take it personally. He had the better team last year... this is a new year, this is a new team," he said about the new franchise he coaches this season.
Both clubs went back-and-forth for most of the first half and followed the same script in the third quarter.
After Joe Devance made a hook shot to tie the game at 44, things started to go Meralco's way. Back-to-back baskets by James Sena gave the Bolts a four-point edge, and after the Hotshots couldn't respond, a triple by Mike Cortez put his team ahead 51-44.
Sena finished with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting, while Cortez registered 11 points and 5 boards.
Purefoods was limited to just eight points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, and never established a rhythm offensively to go on a late game-changing run. The closest they came to doing so was with under four minutes left, when James Yap hit a basket that cut Meralco's lead to 13.
In the subsequent play, Yap stole the ball but was unable to hit a tough reverse layup on the break. Not long after, Cortez converted a layup to make the count 73-58 with 2:40 to go, essentially sealing the contest and series.
The Hotshots' 65 points is their franchise low for points scored in a game in the All-Filipino Conference.
"This is a huge win for us to beat Purefoods, mainly because it gives us a chance to play Alaska (in phase two of the quarterfinals), and hopefully qualify for the semifinals," said Black. When Meralco and the Aces squared off in the elimination round, Alaska won by 41.
"Hopefully we're a better team now," Black said, before later adding: "Hopefully we can play them better."
Devance led Purefoods with 21 points and 4 rebounds, while Yap scored 14 but went an uncharacteristic 1-of-7 from the free throw line. Mark Barroca scored 13 points and grabbed 3 rebounds.
The Hotshots shot just 36% from the field and 19% from downtown thanks to the headstrong defense of the Bolts, who in comparison made 45% of their shots, including 35% of their 3-pointers.
Meralco (77): Dillinger 14, Hodge 12, Cortez 11, Sena 11, Wilson 8, Hugnatan 7, Buenafe 4, Caram 4, David 4, Anthony 2, Macapagal 0, Ferriols 0
Purefoods (65): Devance 21, Yap 14, Barroca 12, Taha 7, Simon 5, Pingris 5, Melton 1, Pennisi 0, Reavis 0, Mallari 0, Maliksi 0
Quarter Scoring: 18-19, 35-30, 56-48, 77-65
Here are some photos of the game taken by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images