With their Commissioner’s Cup playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Meralco Bolts dug deep and gave themselves a fighting chance for the eight and final Quarterfinals slot by stunning the San Miguel Beermen, 95-91, inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
After snapping SMB’s three-game winning streak, the Bolts set up a date with the Alaska Aces, to determine which team will face the twice-to-beat TNT Katropa.
Meralco, Alaska, and the Phoenix Fuel Masters actually figured in a three-way tie with a 4-7 record after the eliminations. However, it was Phoenix who drew the short end of the stick and fell victim to the quotient system.
FOX Sports Philippines gives some insights on how Meralco managed to defeat the streaking Beermen.
James doused McCullough’s fire
One of the under the radar reinforcements so far in the mid-season tournament, Meralco’s Delroy James had his coming out party when it mattered the most, dropping a complete game of 34 points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks.
Unfazed by his duel with the red hot Chris McCullough, James shot 12-of-23 from the field (52 percent) and went 3-for-7 from deep (42 percent). He only missed only one of his eight total trips from the foul line (87 percent. The 32-year-old was money in the final minute, scoring crucial baskets to keep SMB at bay. He outplayed McCullough on both ends of the floor, limiting his counterpart to 27 points and nine turnovers.
Meralco pounced on SMB’s mistakes
The match was evenly contested for the most part, with no team leading more than seven points throughout the entire 48 minutes. However, it was SMB’s 22 turnovers that ultimately spelled their demise. The frontcourt of McCullough and June Mar Fajardo combined for 15 of those miscues.
The Bolts turned those opportunities into their favor, outscoring San Miguel in points off turnovers,29-15. Coach Norman Black’s wards also did a much better job of taking care of the rock, limiting their miscues to just 13.
SMB falls to 7th place
While Meralco earned another lifeline, it was San Miguel who plummeted down to the seventh spot after TNT’s victory later in the evening. Instead of a best-of-three series against Ginebra, the Beermen can no longer afford another setback and will now have to defeat the NorthPort Batang Pier twice in order to advance to the semis.
San Miguel takes on NorthPort on Sunday, while Meralco faces Alaska in a do-or-die affair on Friday.
(Images from PBA Media Group)