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Johnson's ejection costly for TNT in loss to Meralco

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Despite a gallant stand for Talk 'n Text even without Ivan Johnson, Meralco still prevailed.

The Bolts repulsed the Tropa, 88-84, in their PBA Commissioner's Cup clash at the PhilSports Arena on Saturday.

TNT had to play all-Filipino the rest of the way as Johnson was sent off following an altercation with Commissioner Chito Narvasa. Narvasa would hand Johnson with a lifetime ban for his actions.

That proved to be fatal as Meralco closed the quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 33-26 halftime lead. TNT failed to score in the final 5:52 of the period.

The Tropa, however, kept in pace with the Bolts despite playing without Johnson the rest of the way like how they stunned the Blackwater Elite.

But Meralco weathered every storm TNT tried to start and scored its second straight win just after the team only won once in all of the Philippine Cup.

Cliff Hodge led six Bolts in double figures with 15 points along with eight rebounds, three assists, and one block, while Jared Dillinger tallied a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Jayson Castro, who had to take much of the scoring load without Johnson, finished with 25 markers, one board, five dimes, and two swipes for the Tropa.

In what would be his first and last PBA game this year, Johnson only had nine markers.

Box Scores:

Meralco 88-Hodge 15, Dillinger 14, Onuaku 14, Faundo 11, Alapag 10, Amer 10, Newsome 9, David 3, Al-Hussaini 2, Bono 0, Buenafe 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Nabong 0

Talk 'n Text 84-Castro 25, Fonacier 15, Johnson 9, Williams 8, De Ocampo 7, R. Reyes 7, Carey 6, Nuyles 4, Tautuaa 3, Ababou 0, Rosser 0, J. Reyes 0, Aban 0

Quarterscores: 16-20, 33-26, 61-55, 88-84

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno