Meralco arrested a colossal meltdown against NorthPort, 80-73, to go into the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs on a high note at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga on Wednesday, November 11.
The Bolts nearly squandered a 19-point lead in the final quarter before they got their act together in the final 30 seconds to pull through and end the elimination round with a 7-4 record.
Raymond Almazan finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds, including the breakaway layup with 24 ticks left that doused cold water on the blistering Batang Pier fightback.
Down 55-74, NorthPort – with nothing to lose after being eliminated from playoff contention – tried to play spoiler after dropping an 18-2 bomb to cut its deficit to 3 points with two minutes remaining.
But Meralco forced its foes to miss back-to-back triples in the ensuing plays as Almazan padded their lead to 78-73 with a layup off a fastbreak.
Chris Newsome, who churned out 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks, sealed the win by canning his free throws.
Bong Quinto put up 14 points and 8 rebounds in the win, Baser Amer had 10 points and 7 assists, while Trevis Jackson added 10 points for the Bolts, who will play in the Philippine Cup playoffs for the first time in 5 seasons.
“Well in this business, you take the wins as they come because they do not come that often,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black as he breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Jervy Cruz led the Batang Pier with 15 points and 17 rebounds, while Kelly Nabong and Paolo Taha had 14 points apiece.
NorthPort wrapped up its conference with a 1-10 record at joint last place with Terrafirma.
Meralco 80 – Quinto 14, Newsome 11, Almazan 11,Amer 10, Jackson 10, Jamito 6, Black 5, Faundo 4, Maliksi 3, Salva 2, Caram 2, Hodge 2, Pinto 0, Jose 0.
NorthPort 73 – Cruz 15, Taha 14 , Nabong 14, Subido 9,Ferrer 9, Guinto 7, Manganti 2, Revilla 2, Elorde 1.
Quarters: 23-14, 39-30, 67-50, 80-73.