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From getting shot at top seed, Meralco now in danger of missing Top 4 bonus after Phoenix 'whopping'

A crucial loss against Phoenix could haunt Meralco at the end of the eliminations. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Following a huge win against Magnolia in Iloilo City on Saturday night, Meralco suddenly found itself in a strong position to not just clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals but also get the top seed in the said round.

However, the Bolts were sent crashing on Wednesday night after the Phoenix Fuel Masters romped them, 93-83.

"They were all over us. Give them credit. Ang ganda ng depensa nila. They had more energy to start," coach Luigi Trillo said after the loss.

Meralco had its chances, actually, within the last five minutes when Phoenix went sloppy and committed four straight turnovers and trimmed the lead down to five, 88-83.

However, the Bolts lost steam as the Fuel Masters held them scoreless for the last 2:55 of the game.

Trillo, however, believes that Phoenix was the better team in the entire fourth quarter.

"I thought in the fourth quarter, they played better. Parang we didn't seem like we had legs. We seemed like an older team," Trillo further said.

"They came to play. They made the tough shots... They belong. They gave us a whopping."

He even thought that the Bolts' rough start which saw the Fuel Masters racing to a 31-19 lead at the end of the first quarter set the tone for the outcome.

"We wanna play solid from the start, but noong first quarter pa lang, nilamangan kami ng 15 points. We don't do that," Trillo further said.

Win vs. Terrafirma might not be enough for Meralco

However, he still lauded his team for putting up the fight in the end despite falling short, and he hopes they can bring that gallant stand on Friday night when they take on Terrafirma.

Despite that, Trillo is already aware that just beating the Dyip is not anymore enough for the Bolts to assure them of the quarterfinal bonus given to the top four teams at the end of the eliminations.

There is a chance that Meralco could still fall to the fifth seed even if they finish at 8-3, and that is if San Miguel and Ginebra win their last games over the weekend.

The Beermen take on the Blackwater Bossing in the first game of the Friday doubleheader right before the Bolts-Dyip game.

The night later, the Gin Kings battle the survival-seeking NLEX Road Warriors.

That is why Trillo rued that Meralco missed its chance to get the quarterfinal incentive on its own.

"Sayang, di ba?" Trillo further said.

Simply put, the Bolts' twice-to-beat bid is not anymore in their hands.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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