FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
Published on December 2, 2011

MERALCO is safely in the playoffs. So why risk injuries to players by playing hard, right? Wrong. 

The Bolts came out with the same passion and intensity of a ballclub hanging on for its dear life, making the key defensive stops down the stretch in overcoming Powerade Friday night, 100-98, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum. 

 Sol Mercado scored 23 points and Gabby Espinas collected 14 points, 11 rebounds and two critical blocks in the fourth quarter as Meralco eclipsed the seven victories it posted in its maiden tournament – the Philippine Cup – last season.

“We know we are already in the playoffs,” said Meralco head coach Ryan Gregorio. “But our intention was to fight for the character of this team. 

The most number of wins we had in a conference was seven, and tonight, we were up against ourselves. “Right now we’re trying to reach our maximum potential. 

The challenge is to keep on playing hard and competing.” Mark Cardona added 17 points – 11 coming in the second half – and also had five assists while Asi Taulava pulled down 11 rebounds. 

Gary David collected 16 first-half points but was held to only nine the rest of the way because of foul trouble, and Doug Kramer had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Powerade, which lost in its first chance to end a 7-conference playoff drought. 

The Tigers, who also lost by two, 98-96, in their first meeting last Nov. 16 against Meralco, are going to try to formalize their place in the quarterfinals anew when they take on Barako Bull on Tuesday. 

Sean Anthony contributed 14 points and nine rebounds, while JVee Casio poured in 13 points. Just like the first these two teams met, the Bolts carved out the victory via a come from behind manner. 

They trailed by as many as 53-43 in the second quarter, but were able to rally in the third to tie the count at 76 entering the final period. 

Meralco then scored all but two of the first 11 points in the fourth quarter for an 85-78 lead, a cushion it protected the rest of the way. 

The closest the Tigers came was to within 98-95 on a triple by David with 1:33 left to play, before Espinas retaliated with an open jumper with 1:13 to go. 

“He’s always been consistent for us,” Gregorio said of Espinas, who recorded his seventh double-double in the tourney. 

Powerade never scored until Marcio Lassiter knocked in the closing seconds. 

The scores: 

Meralco (100) - Mercado 23, Cardona 17, Espinas 14, Lanete 9, Macapagal 9, Hugnatan 6, Yee 5, Taulava 5, Borboran 4, Isip 4, Omolon 4, Timberlake 0. 

Powerade (98) - David 25, Kramer 16, Anthony 14, Casio 13, Lassiter 9, Vanlandingham 7, Lingganay 6, Adducul 6, Cruz 2, Crisano 0, Antonio 0. 

Quarterscores: 24-22, 49, 54, 76-76, 100-98.


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