Bolts clinch quarterfinal advantage

Meralco 109, Phoenix 90 (Graphics courtesy of PBA Facebook)

MANILA – Meralco clinched a twice-to-beat advantage in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup quarterfinals on Friday after drubbing Phoenix, 109-90, in the penultimate game of the elimination round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Bolts sizzled offensively in the odd-numbered quarters, but the turning point came in the third where it limited Phoenix to just 13 points to open an 88-68 lead entering the fourth.

The Fuel Masters looked to pull a comeback after opening the final canto with an 8-0 run that cut the lead to 12, 88-76.

But the Bolts responded with a 17-7 rally to increase the advantage to 22, 105-83, with 1:41 to go.

“The win is really important because we lost our last three games, and of course when you’re losing, your confidence takes a hit. So we really had to try to rebuild our confidence going into this game today knowing that we would have a twice-to-beat advantage if we win,” Mercalco coach Norman Black said in the post-game interview.

Tony Bishop had 35 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and three steals to lead Meralco, which will enter the quarterfinals as the fourth seed.

Allein Maliksi added 27 points, three rebounds, and one steal off the bench.

Meralco joined Magnolia and NLEX in the top four with the other slot to be decided following the TNT-NorthPort match ongoing as of posting time.

Du’Vaughn Maxwell made 26 points and hauled down 12 boards while Matthew Wright produced 13 pints and 10 assists for Phoenix, which must now hope that NorthPort falls to TNT to force a playoff on Sunday night for the eighth seed.

The scores:

MERALCO 109 – Bishop 35, Maliksi 27, Hodge 14, Quinto 11, Banchero 8, Newsome 7, Black 3, Almazan 2, Pasaol 2, Belo 0, Canete 0, Caram 0.

PHOENIX 90 – Maxwell 26, Jazul 16, Wright 13, Perkins 12, Rios 11, Manganti 5, Garcia 4, Demusis 3, Melecio 0, Salva 0, Porter 0.

Quarters: 37-28, 56-55, 88-68, 109-90 (PNA)

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