|Bong Quinto soars for the jam. PBA Images|
MANILA—Down goes the defending champs... at least for now.
Barangay Ginebra are now in danger of missing the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals after the Meralco Bolts stifled them with a 79-66 win on Thursday at Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Bolts started the first period with a 10-0 run.
After 4 and a half minutes in the period, Stanley Pringle finally gave Ginebra a bucket and eventually scored the first seven points for the team.
Christian Standhardinger added 6 straight points of his own for the Gin Kings, but Alvin Pasaol finished the first period with three straight three-pointers to give the Bolts a 23-15 lead after the first.
The Bolts eventually led as many as 19 in the second period before settling for a 15-point cushion, 47-32, at halftime.
The defending champs didn’t give up.
Ginebra found its way to sneak back in the third period and made it a close one, only trailing by 4, 51-55. after the period.
But Meralco took control of the fourth quarter to complete the blowout.
Mac Belo and Alvin Pasaol each scored 15 points for the Bolts, who finished the first round of the conference with an 9-2 record even as they enter the quarterfinals as the second seeds with a twice-to-beat advantage.
Stanley Pringle put up 19 points, four rebounds, one assist, and four steals, while Christian Standhardinger added 17 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and one steal for the Gin Kings, who must now hope that the NorthPort Batang Pier would beat the Alaska Aces later Thursday to get to play in the eighth-place playoff against the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
Otherwise, Ginebra would become the first team to be eliminated early into the season-opening conference after winning the championship the previous year since Shell got ousted after the preliminary phase of the 2000 edition.
The Scores :
MERALCO 79 – Pasaol 15, Belo 15, Newsome 10, Quinto 8, Maliksi 7, Jamito 7, Almazan 6, Caram 4, Hodge 3, Pinto 2, Baclao 2, Jackson 0
GINEBRA 66 – Pringle 19, Standhardinger 17, Tenorio 11, Chan 7, Mariano 6, Devance 4, Dillinger 2, Caperal 0, Enriquez 0, Holmqvist 0
Quarters : 23-15, 47-32, 55-51, 79-66
With a report from Ivan Saldajeno.
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