Monday, December 5, 2011

Meralco repeats over Powerade

MANILA, Philippines — Meralco got huge plays on both ends from Gabby Espinas down the stretch and repeated against Powerade, 100-98, Friday night to remain on track for a high playoff ranking in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Espinas scored his four fourth quarter points inside the final 4:35 and had two key blocks to seal the eighth win in 13 games that kept Meralco in the upper half of the standings.

The Tigers saw a two-game run end and dropped to 5-8 overall, still within a win of formally clinching a quarterfinal slot for the first time in the last eight conferences.

Meralco nosed out the Tigers, 98-96 last Nov. 16 when Mac Cardona hit the marginal basket in the dying seconds.

Cardona again had a huge contribution last night, scoring seven of his 17 in the fourth period, including a layup at the 2:05 mark that made it 96-91.

Just when it looked like the Tigers were ready to roll over and call it a day, Sean
Anthony had a free throw and Gary David a triple that sandwiched a Chico Lanete layup to put Powerade within 95-98 with still 1:33 left.

Then came Espinas’ heroics.

Left wide open in the keyhole, the 6-foot-4 forward knocked in a long jumper and then blocked attempts by Doug Kramer and Anthony as the Bolts took a 100-95 lead in the dying seconds.

Rookie Marcio Lassiter then drained a meaningless three-pointer at the buzzer for the final count.

“We’re in the playoffs, but that is not our final destination,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio told reporters. “Seven was the most wins of this franchise in a conference. It’s like golf, we are playing against ourselves now.”

The worst case scenario for the Tigers at this point is to be dragged into a playoff for the eighth and final playoff spot by Alaska in the event that Powerade loses its last game against Barako Bull and the Aces win their last two outings.

Barangay Ginebra, which is playing Petron Blaze at press time, also has five wins and will have three more shots at nailing a playoff spot after its match with the Boosters.

The Aces, meanwhile, fight for their lives Sunday when they battle short-handed Talk ‘N Text also at the Big Dome in the 6:30 p.m. game.

Barako Bull and B-Meg slug it out in the 4:15 p.m. contest with both squads also looking for victories to finish the elimination round in the upper half.

The scores:

First Game

MERALCO 100—Mercado 23, Cardona 17, Espinas 14, Lanete 9, Macapagal 9, Hugnatan 6, Yee 5, Taulava 5, Borboran 4, Isip 4, Omolon 4, Timberlake 0.

98—David 25, Kramer 16, Anthony 14, Casio 13, Lassiter 9, Vanlandingham 7, Lingganay 6, Adducul 6, Cruz 2, Crisano 0, Antonio 0.

Quarters: 24-22, 49, 54, 76-76, 100-98

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