Meralco outplays Alaska to force do-or-die Game 5

The Meralco Bolts came out with a lot of energy as they exacted payback with a Game 4 whipping of the Alaska Aces, 86-70, Monday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to drag the series into a winner-take-all Game 5.

After receiving a 20-point beating in Game 3, the Bolts used a big 2nd half to tie the series.

Jared Dillinger spearheaded the Bolts’ assault with 17 markers, including a quartercourt buzzer beater to end the 3rd that capped off an 8-0 counter run to restore a double-digit spread.

Arinze Onuaku anchored the Bolts’ interior defense with 5 shot blocks that went with 16 points, 16 boards and 4 assists. Cliff Hodge also added a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds while they got a huge lift from Bryan Faundo who pumped in 12 and 7 rebounds in a starting gig.

Rob Dozier, who shrug off a minor sprained ankle led Alaska with 18 points and 15 rebounds but failed to muster enough support from his teammates.

The usual crisp ball movement of Alaska was stifled by Meralco defense forcing them to rely on 1-on-1 plays. The Aces only had 11 assists resulting in their lowest output since a 70-88 loss to San Miguel in last season’s Phil Cup Finals.

The rubbermatch is scheduled on 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Big Dome with Meralco shooting for its finals appearance in franchise history while Alaska will go for shot at redemption after their heartbreaking Philippine Cup Finals loss. The winner will meet Rain or Shine, which closed out San Miguel in 4 games. – John Bryan Ulanday