Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts played like their conference lives depended on it, but still fell short down the stretch of the game and wound up losing a heartbreaker to the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 108-104, on Wednesday, December 9, at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Trailing 80-56 at one point in the third period, the Bolts slowly chipped away at the Batang Pier’s lead and nearly escaped with the victory after tying the game at 94 with a little over 4 minutes to go.
Rising PBA star Terrence Romeo, who hit late free throws to seal the win, became just the first player this conference to score at least 30 a second time by finishing with 33 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 3-pointers.
Stanley Pringle was also superb, posting 19 points, 6 boards, and 6 dimes as the Batang Pier moved up to 6-3 following their third straight win.
For Meralco, it’s disappointment as they fell well short of their pre-season expectations by being eliminated from the playoff race with a 1-9 record through 10 games.
Cliff Hodge led the Bolts with 17 points and 10 rebounds while rookie standout Chris Newsome had 13 points, 8 boards, and 4 dimes. Veteran Jimmy Alapag was also impressive with 18 points and 4 assists off the bench. In the process, the clutch point guard broke into the top-5 all-time PBA assists leaders by taking the spot of Willie Generalao.
The 4 players ahead of Alapag on the list are Sonny Jaworski, Mon Fernandez, Dindo Pumaren, and Johnny Abarrientos, per PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon.
Meralco, which is 0-5 in games decided by 3 points or less this conference, even took the lead when Hodge’s basket put them up 96-94, but Doug Kramer quickly responded to tie the contest, then hit a free throw to re-gain the lead.
Pringle then hit a huge triple to put his club up 4, and after Ryan Buenafe missed his jumper, Romeo nailed one from downtown to make it a 7-point game with 1:57 left.
Meralco, however, refused to fall, as Hodge and Alapag scored 5 straight to make it a one-possession game anew. But after forcing a Pringle miss, Romeo gathered an offensive rebound and was fouled after, leading to two free throws, 105-101.
As he’s done countless of times, Alapag hit another 3 again to make it a one-point game with 23 seconds left, but Romeo calmly made two more free throws to make it 107-104. Alapag then missed his next 3-ball and Jay Washington was fouled. After Washington split his charities, 108-104, Alapag missed a triple with one second left, sealing his team’s defeat.
The Batang Pier shot 47% from the field and 13-of-21 from downtown but was out-rebounded, 49-42. GlobalPort made up for that by out-scoring their opponents on fastbreak chances, 24-10.
Romeo and company will be back in action against the Mahindra Enforcers on Saturday, December 12, while Meralco will face Rain or Shine next on Wednesday, December 16.
GlobalPort (108): Romeo 33, Pringle 19, Washington 15, Mamaril 8, Yeo 8, Jensen 7, Kramer 7, Maierhofer 6, Sumang 3, Semerad 2.
Meralco (104): Alapag 18, Hodge 17, Nabong 13, Newsome 13, Hugnatan 12, Faundo 11, David 8, Buenafe 7, Dillinger 4, Caram 1, Al-Hussaini 0, Amer 0.
Quarter scores: 26-22, 55-44, 87-73, 108-104 – Rappler.com