Meralco Bolts put up an electrifying performance against Petron Blaze, 95-81, to bounce back from a forgettable 25-point loss in their previous game in the 2013 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Meralco Bolts played relentless basketball from the opening tip till the final buzzer to come away with the easy win and improve their win-loss mark to 5-3.
Sol Mercado unloaded 14 of his 22 points in the third period to help Meralco Bolts pull away, while Mac Cardona dished out a near triple-double performance for the Bolts with 16 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Reynel Hugnatan also had 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field for Meralco Bolts, which led by as much as 20 points in the game.
“After a deflating defeat against Rain or Shine, we want to test our bounce-back genes and we did it,” said Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio, who also drew 15 points from rookie Cliff Hodge.
“Against Rain or Shine, complacency was the enemy. In this game, from the opening tip our lockdown defense was there and on offense, we’re hitting in all cylinders.”
Mercado engineered the Bolts’ solid third quarter stint, scoring 11 straight points that highlighted their 17-4 run to turn a 52-45 lead into a 69-49 cushion with 1:36 left in that stage.
The Boosters trimmed the lead to 10 points at 80-70, but Cardona scored five straight and Hodge sealed the win with an emphatic two-hand slam to put the game out of reach, 87-70, with 3:37 remaining in the game.
“This was an important win for us at this point of the conference. We still in the upper echelon of the standings and give us a clear shot at No. 4,” said Gregorio.
Alex Cabagnot paced the undermanned Petron quintet with 19 points while Chriz Lutz and Arwind Santos netted 13 and 10 markers respectively.
It was the Boosters’ third straight loss to drop their record to 3-6 with five games left. They are now tied with Barako Bull for the No. 9 spot.
MERALCO 95 – Mercado 22, Hugnatan 22, Cardona 16, Hodge 15, Ross 9, Buenafe 6, Salvacion 3, Reyes 2, Belencion 0, Bulawan 0, Borboran 0.
PETRON 81 – Cabagnot 19, Lutz 13, Santos 10, Duncil 9, Miranda 8, Yeo 7, Faundo 6, Washington 5, Mallari 2, Sison 2, Lassiter 0.
Quarters: 25-20, 45-38, 69-51, 95-81