Despite Dillinger's injury, Bolts take Game 1 against Road Warriors

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Meralco almost let an early double-digit spread slip away but rebuilt the lead and beat NLEX, 97-82, at the start of the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.

Despite losing Jared Dillinger to a knee injury in the first quarter, the Bolts raced to a 34-19 lead after the period.

The Road Warriors, however, made their opponents feel the absence of Dillinger as they crawled back and the cut the lead to six, 34-28, in the second period.

Meralco regained composure later in the quarter and entered halftime with its lead stretched to 11, 47-36.

NLEX made another rally in the third quarter to once again draw to within six, 45-51, but that turned out to be the club's last stand as Meralco rebuilt its huge lead and never looked back.

Mark Macapagal sizzled for 22 points to lead six players in double figures for the Bolts, who took a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series with the Road Warriors.

Al Thornton made a game-high 23 markers for the Road Warriors, who have now lost back-to-back games after a five-game winning streak.

Box Scores:

Meralco 97--Macapagal 22, Davis 16, Anthony 14, David 13, Cortez 10, Hugnatan 10, Hodge 7, Reyes 2, Ildefonso 2, Wilson 1, Sena 0, Caram 0, Dillinger 0, Ferriols 0

NLEX 82--Thornton 23, Cardona 17, J. Villanueva 13, Canaleta 8, E. Villanueva 6, Taulava 5, Ramos 4, Raymundo 2, Lingganay 2, Baloria 2, Camson 0, Borboran 0, H. Arboleda 0

Quarterscores: 34-19, 47-36, 69-61, 97-82