Petron Blaze arranged a rematch with Talk ‘N Text in the semifinals after sweeping Meralco, 80-64, in their best-of-three quarterfinal series in the 2011-12 PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
Rookie Chris Lutz powered the Boosters’s offense with 21 points while Arwind Santos and Rob Reyes anchored their defense to lift the team to its eighth semifinal stint in the last nine conferences.
Petron will face the Tropang Texters in a best-of-seven semifinal series, a rematch of last season’s Governors’ Cup finals that saw the Boosters win the crown.
“Sinabi ko sa players this is the last game and we have to finish them off,” said Petron coach Ato Agustin.
“Maganda ang ipinakita naming depensa. Talagang defense is the key.”
Santos added 18 points and collared seven rebounds while Joseph Yeo netted a double-double performance with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Denok Miranda, who started the game in place of the ailing Alex Cabagnot, also contributed big with 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists while Reyes was huge on the defensive end with 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Gabby Espinas led the Bolts with 20 points and was responsible for putting his team back in the game in the second half, before the Boosters made their final push to silence Meralco.
Mark Cardona had a silent 10-point performance on 4-of-14 shooting while Sol Mercardo also struggled offensively and hit only nine points on 5-of-19 from the field.
Petron also had a sizzling first quarter with a 30-17 lead and led by as high 18 points, 54-36. Espinas then anchored a 13-4 run to end the third period with Meralco trailing, 58-49.
The Bolts cut the lead to six points, 58-52, but the Boosters ended Meralco’s hopes for a rubber match with a blistering 19-5 run highlighted by Lutz’s difficult reverse lay-up to put the game out of reach, 77-57, with less than three minutes remaining.
The Boosters will be facing the defending champion Tropang Texters, the No. 2 seed after the eliminations.
“After Christman na muna namn iisipin ang Talk ‘N Text. Gusto namin ma-enjoy ang Holidays. December 26 na namin paghahandaan sila,” said Agustin.
PETRON 80 – Lutz 21, Santos 18, Yeo 13, Miranda 12, Baclao 6, Reyes 6, Tugade 2, Ildefonso 2, Doruelo 0, Agustin 0, Cabagnot 0.
MERALCO 64 – Espinas 20, Cardona 10, Mercado 9, Macapagal 7, Taulava 7, Isip 4, Timberlake 2, Borboran 2, Omolon 2, Ross 1, Ballesteros 0, Lanete 0, Hugnatan 0.
Quarters: 30-17, 46-32, 58-49, 80-64
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