B-MEG gave Meralco a dose of its own medicine on defense.
The Llamados tightened up the screws on the defensive end in the fourth quarter and held the Bolts without a field goal over an 11-minute stretch to secure an 86-76 triumph in their knockout showdown in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum Sunday.
In the fourth period, Marc Pingris, the team’s defensive catalyst, and Jonas Villanueva, the team’s third-string point guard, raised the energy level of the Llamados on defense. The Llamados forced the Bolts to miss 16 straight field goals. Seven of those missed shots came from Earl Barron, who was outplayed down the stretch by his counterpart Denzel Bowles.
While Barron was running out of steam, the younger Bowles played with more energy. He had 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a putback off Peter June Simon’s missed jumper that gave the Llamados an 82-74 lead entering the final two minutes of the match.
“The only good thing I did in the game tonight was to put Jonas Villanueva in the fourth quarter. He turned things around for us and he defended well against [Sol] Mercado. There’s a tendency for people to forget how good Jonas is. He’s coming back after year and a half layoff and he still has difficulty finding the tempo, but he always impressed me, and he impressed me in our last in our practice. He was the difference tonight,” said B-MEG coach Tim Cone.
Bowles finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds while Simon contributed 16 points for the Llamados, who made it to the PBA’s final four for the first time under Cone.
Pingris grabbed 16 rebounds while also helping out in defending Barron.
Mercado and Barron carried the fight for Meralco, scoring 27 and 23 points, respectively, but were shackled in the fourth quarter.
Mac Cardona, the Bolts’ top gun, was down to only two points and was in and out of the game after sustaining a shin injury in the second quarter.
B-MEG (86) – Bowles 28, Simon 16, Devance 15, Yap 9, Barroca 6, Pingris 6, Intal 2, Reavis 2, De Ocampo 2, Urbiztondo 0, Villanueva 0.
Meralco (76) – Mercado 27, Barron 23, Hugnatan 10, Ross 9, Macapagal 3, Cardona 2, Taulava 2, Borboran 0, Artadi 0.
Quarterscores: 21-23; 42-40; 61-67; 86-76
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