By Adrian Stewart Co
Meralco Bolts survived a late rally from shorthanded NorthPort Batang Pier for an 80-73 victory in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Pampanga.
Holding to a 76-60 lead after a basket from Ilonggo Anjo Caram, the Batang Pier went on a furious rally from Kevin Ferrer and Ilonggo Juan Paolo Taha to come as close as 73-76.
NorthPort had a chance to tie it but Ferrer misfired his triple try before Meralco widened the lead to 78-73 on a conversion from Raymond Almazan and later sealed the win on two free throws by Baser Amer.
Kier John Quinto top-scored with 14 points, Almazan and Chris Newsome added 11 markers apiece, while Amer and Trevis Jackson finished with 10 points each for the 7-4 Bolts.
The Bolts, which are now tied with Alaska Aces, defending champions San Miguel Beermen, TNT Tropang Giga and Magnolia Hotshots, will wait for the outcome of Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters-Rain or Shine Elasto Painters game to determine their quarterfinals placing.
Meanwhile, Asi Taulava came up with solid numbers in his potential farewell game as NLEX Road Warriors walloped TerraFirma Dyip, 127-101. The Road Warriors finished the eliminations at 5-6, while the Dyip tied Batang Pier at 1-10.
The Filipino-Tongan big man logged in 14:38 minutes and finished with 11 points, including two triples, to go along with four rebounds, three blocks and two assists for the Road Warriors.
The 47-year-old Taulava, whose contract with the Road Warriors is set to expire by December, has already hinted during the offseason that this year will be his final playing year.
“Everything depends on management. I’m happy just being on the team with whatever is asked me to do. Other than that, just got to wait, talk to my management first before I make any final decisions,” Taulava said in his interview with ONE Sports after the match.
Ilonggo Kiefer Ravena led the way with 23 points, including five treys, while Negrense Raul Soyud, Ilonggo Jericho Cruz and Anthony Semerad added 16, 12 and 11, respectively, for NLEX.
MERALCO 80 – Quinto 14, Newsome 11, Almazan 11, Jackson 10, Amer 10, Jamito 6, Black 5, Faundo 4, Maliksi 3, Hodge 2, Salva 2, Caram 2, Jose 0, Pinto 0.
NORTHPORT 74 – Cruz 15, Nabong 14, Taha 14, Subido 9, Ferrer 9, Guinto 7, Manganti 2, Revilla 2, Elorde 1.
Quarterscores: 23-14, 39-30, 67-50, 80-74./ASC, WDJ