Meralco inches closer to QF bonus after winning game of spurts against Mahindra


By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--In a match highlighted by one team's dominant quarter countered by the other's own barrage in the next 12-minute set, it was Meralco's fourth quarter blast that mattered the most.

The Bolts leaned on a flurry in the final frame to take down the Mahindra Enforcers, 94-86, in a PBA Commissioner's Cup match-up at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

Meralco outscored Mahindra, 34-16, in the last canto to earn its seventh win of the mid-season conference, putting the club on the verge of bagging a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

The Enforcers, looking to solidify their bid for their first ever playoff appearance, actually started the game on a high note, taking a 29-18 first quarter lead.

The Bolts, however, bounced back in the second period, going for a 27-15 quarter to snatch the lead, 45-44, at the half.

Mahindra again came off the dugout firing, retaking the advantage in fashion through a 26-15 third quarter impression for a 70-60 edge.

But Meralco's fourth quarter barrage happened and Mahindra never recovered from it.

Cliff Hodge exploded for 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting along with 11 rebounds, three assists, and one steal, while Chris Newsome flirted with a triple-double after tallying 15 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists of his own together with a steal and no turnover for the Bolts, who can finally score the playoff bonus if they beat the Alaska Aces on Friday night.

Augustus Gilchrist made 20 markers, 13 boards, four dimes, one block, and three steals for the Enforcers, whose loss spiced up the race for the eighth and last quarterfinal spot with two games left in their elimination schedule.

Box Scores:

Meralco 94-Hodge 25, Onuaku 16, Newsome 15, Hugnatan 13, Alapag 8, Dillinger 7, Amer 6, Faundo 4, Bono 0, Ry Buenafe 0, Caram 0, Ferriols 0

Mahindra 86-Gilchrist 20, Dehesa 15, Ramos 12, Yee 11, Revilla 10, Canaleta 6, Digregorio 3, Pinto 3, Bagatsing 2, Ballesteros 2, Guinto 2

Quarterscores: 18-29, 45-44, 60-70, 94-86

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