FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
Powerade provided some dramatic shots in the game but Mac Cardona made the shot that mattered most.

Cardona’s patented teardrop shot found the mark with eight seconds left and Tigers’ rookie JVee Casio failed to convert in the ensuing play as Meralco came out with a thrilling 98-96 escape Wednesday night in the 2011 PBA Philippine Cup at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Gabby Espinas had another impressive all-around performance for the Bolts with 25 points and 11 rebounds while Cardona chipped in 18, none bigger than his last field goal to steal the win from the hard luck Tigers.

Asi Taulava and Sol Mercado contributed 12 and 11 points respectively for Meralco, which now improved its mark to 6-4 and handed Powerade its third straight loss as the Tigers dropped to 3-6.

“We knew it beforehand, that it’s not gonna be easy. Thank God for that Mark Cardona shot, bailing us out and winning against Powerade,” said Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio.

“They were scoring at will but it was defense that bailed us out in the last couple of minutes,” he added.

Gary David had a game-high 26 points but only 8 in the second half for Powerade.

Doug Kramer had an outstanding performance with 17 points and 15 rebounds, even banking in a shot from way beyond the rainbow territory to end the first half.

Casio had his best game yet with 14 markers while Alex Crisano also netted double figures in scoring with 11 including a rare three-pointer at the top of the key.

But the Tigers just couldn’t make their shots, as they were held scoreless in the final 3:26 of the game.

Casio gave them the last points with a floater putting Powerade ahead, 96-92, but Chico Lanete scored on the next play, and Mercado’s split from the line closed the gap to, 96-95 with 35.8 seconds remaining.

David, the league’s top scorer, misfired on the next Powerade possession and Gregorio sued for a timeout and designed an isolation play for Cardona who delivered with 8 seconds remaining to put Meralco up, 97-96.

Casio took the inbound pass but was met by the Meralco defense and the former Smart Gilas ace lost control of the leather that led to the split of Espinas to cement the win for the Bolts.

“We’re in a good position now. We still have 4 games left and we hope to make the playoffs. It’s the best 10 games of this very young franchise,” said Gregorio.

The scores:

MERALCO 98 – Espinas 25, Cardona 18, Taulava 12, Mercado 11, Lanete 8, Borboran 7, Yee 6, Macapagal 4, Timberlake 3, Omolon 2, Hugnatan 2, Ballesteros 0, Isip 0.

POWERADE 96 – David 26, Kramer 17, Casio 14, Crisano 11, Lassiter 8, Lingganay 7, Calimag 6, Adducul 4, Cruz 3, Martinez 0, Vanlandingham 0, Allera 0, Antonio 0.

Quarters: 23-17, 52-48, 79-84, 98-96


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