|Bong Quinto lit it up from long range. PBA Images|
MANILA--The Meralco Bolts will enter the PBA quarterfinals with their heads held high after trouncing the NorthPort Batang Pier, 80-73, to end their elimination campaign on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Despite the win, Meralco had to grind it out with NorthPort in the end after the latter pulled off a comeback threat.
Leading by as much as 19 points earlier in the fourth quarter, the Bolts were holding to a 76-60 lead with five minutes left.
However, the Batang Pier went on a 13-0 run that cut the lead down to just three, 76-73, with 1:57 to play.
NorthPort failed to score from there, and Raymond Almazan scored on a layup with 24 seconds left that eventually iced the game.
Despite the win, however, Meralco, which moved up to 7-4, will not be able to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals due to having an inferior quotient needed to make the Top 4.
But with this victory, the team will have some momentum going.
Bong Quinto led the Bolts with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting including 4-of-6 from threes, eight rebounds, and two assists.
Almazan and Chris Newsome, who drained two free throws for the final tally, each chipped in 11 markers.
Jervy Cruz put up 15 points, 17 rebounds, and two steals for the Batang Pier, who finished their season at 1-10.
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