Alaska’s Sonny Thoss (left) uses his arm to get Meralco import Allen Durham out of play in a rebound battle during their PBA Governors Cup face-off. JUN MENDOZA

Bolts edge closer to Top Four
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2017 - 4:00pm

Games today (MOA Arena)

3 p.m. – San Miguel vs Kia

5:15 p.m. – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine

MANILA, Philippines — Meralco, boosted by its acquisition of Ranidel de Ocampo, made a decisive comeback from its loss to TNT KaTropa, beating Alaska Milk, 106-78, to tie Barangay Ginebra in the lead in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

De Ocampo drained a trey and nailed two-of-two charities to help fuel the Bolts’ searing second-quarter breakaway that carried the team all the way to a seventh win against two losses.

One more win in their last two games against the GlobalPort Batang Pier and the San Miguel Beermen will guarantee the Bolts of a Top Four finish and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal round.

“That’s been the goal from the start as that’s the incentive offered in the conference. There are many other teams still fighting for it. We have to keep on winning. Otherwise, you don’t get it,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

Alaska, meanwhile, practically bowed out of the playoff race with a seventh loss against three wins.

Meralco snapped Alaska’s three-game winning streak, dealing the Aces a severe beating with big games from Allen Durham, Mike Tolomia, Baser Amer and Chris Newsome.

The Meralco coach said his troops were inspired by the arrival of De Ocampo.

“Ranidel lifted the spirit of the players. It showed tonight,” said Black.

“It’s been an interesting week. We picked him up in the middle of the week, then taught him the system in three days. He didn’t get to play much because most of the guys came out and played very well. Obviously, he brings in a lot of talent,” Black also said.

Durham came up with 26 points and 18 rebounds, Tolomia sizzled with six-of-six three-pointers and a total of 24 markers while Newsome and Lanete combined for 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

The entire Meralco team came out an inspired lot, zooming to a 58-35 halftime lead and were hardly threatened the rest of the way.

De Ocampo, a longtime national player and six-time champ with TNT KaTropa, tallied 10 points with two three-pointers in 16 minutes of action in his Meralco debut.

Meanwhile, Ginebra, San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine press their own Top Four aspirations in a rare Petron Blaze Saturday double-header at the MOA Arena.

The Beermen (5-3) and the Kia Picanto (0-9) clash in the 3 p.m. curtain-raiser then the Kings (7-2) and the Elasto Painters (5-3) face off at 5:15 p.m.

The Star Hotshots finally hit their stride again, climbing into joint fifth with the San Miguel Beermen and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at 5-3 with a 109-83 rout of the GlobalPort Batang Pier in the nightcap.

“Coming off a three-game losing skein, the guys played with a sense of urgency knowing we have to win if we’re to stay in the fight for the Top Four,” said Star coach Chito Victolero.

The scores:

First Game

Meralco 106 – Durham 26, Tolomia 24, Amer 17, Newsome 10, De Ocampo 10, Hodge 8, Lanete 5, Nabong 3, Caram 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Sedurifa 0, Hugnatan 0, Faundo 0.

Alaska 78 – Henton 23, Casio 18, Manuel 10, Abueva 8, Racal 8, Enciso 3, Banchero 3, Exciminiano 2, Pascual 2, Mendoza 1, Thoss 0, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0.

Quarterscores: 28-22, 58-35, 78-59, 106-78

Second Game

STAR 109 – Hill 32, Sangalang 17, Ramos 9, Lee 9, Barroca 8, Mendoza 7, Pingris 6, Reavis 4, Brondial 4, Jalalon 4, Simon 2, Melton 2, Pascual 1, Abundo 0, Gamalinda 0.

GLOBALPORT 83 – Holloway 20, Anthony 12, Romeo 11, Guinto 11, Baracael 10, Pringle 5, Cortez 5, Cardona 5, Hubalde 2, Paredes 2, Mamaril 0, Celiz 0, Grey 0, Araña 0.

Quarterscores: 19-12, 48-38, 81-65, 109-83

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