Meralco continued to climb to a protected place in the playoffs by throwing Blackwater into the cesspool of history.
The Bolts handed the Bossing a 104-97 PBA Philippine Cup loss on Saturday, sending Blackwater to the record books with a 19th straight loss, the longest in league history.
At least Blackwater achieved something he had failed to do for most of the tournament: to avoid appearing out of place in the professional league. Even Meralco coach Norman Black admitted the Bossing, playing for pride and nothing else, scared the Bolts in the second half.
“Blackwater played a lot, a lot better than us in the second half,” said Black. “They rallied against us and we didn’t play as well in the second half, but we played well enough to win the game.”
Blackwater entered the game at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga, losing an average of around 17 points per game. The Bossing seemed determined to make this game a much more intense fight, before finally abandoning their 11th straight game this season.
Add to that the loss of their last eight games last season – after which management traded their best, albeit often injured, player to Mac Belo during the offseason – and Blackwater was all alone at the height of ignominy after having broke his tie with the late Franchise Great Taste / Presto.
On the flip side, the Bolts, already assured of a playoff berth, pulled themselves together in second frame and held it together throughout the stretch to move closer to a playoff bonus.
Allein Maliksi had 21 points and 10 rebounds in his 34th birthday, while Raymond Almazan threw his own 15-17 double-double to help the shorthanded Meralco reach 7-2 with a pair of games to go.
The Bossing got decent numbers from its cast, with KG Canaleta and three others scoring 14 or more.
Blackwater’s last victory was against the NLEX on October 17 of last year, a 98-88 victory where they escaped in the third period. The Bossing went 2-1 after the victory, surprising the pundits, before proceeding with the abandonment of all their remaining matches.
They nearly pulled this one against the Bolts, reducing an 11-point lead to just five, 100-95, on a Simon Enciso triple with 1:49 remaining.
But Anjo Caram restored an eight-point cushion for Meralco, who was outclassed by seven in the final period, allowing the Bolts to hold onto the shaky win, which Black said was a win nonetheless.
“Even if it wasn’t very nice in the second half, I’ll take it,” he said.
“At this point in the season, that’s all that really matters… you get as many wins as you can,” added Black, whose team have faced dangerous NLEX and defending champion Barangay Ginebra in their last two. matches.
In another game, TNT made the most of a unique opportunity, using all of its firepower against tired Alaska for a 103-85 victory for a crucial springboard heading into the playoffs.
“We wanted to try things in this game that we haven’t done, that we haven’t done in the last few games,” said coach Chot Reyes, whose men finished the playoff round at 10-. 1 (win-lose).
“In our mind, we just finished the first half. We now have to be ready for a very, very difficult second half, ”he added as the Tropang Giga now enter a week’s break and enjoy the view from above as other teams are fighting for positions in the quarterfinals.
TNT got the merchandise from Roger Pogoy who finished with 18 points, and from Poy Erram who threw 17 from the bench. Stay sharp
Three other Tropang Giga players scored in double digits as Reyes walked a “fine line between keeping them fresh and keeping them sharp” for the next round.
Abu Tratter and Javee Casio finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Aces, who came out of a win over Barangay Ginebra in a triple header on Friday night.
Alaska was put on a torturous schedule after being placed under league health protocols. Now 3-5, the Aces immediately move on to the 3-7 Terrafirma battle on Sunday night to top off another triple bill.
It remains to be seen who will be TNT’s next playoff assignment, given the complicated stalemate involving the teams in the bottom half, which incidentally includes the Gin Kings.
But this is the least of Reyes’ worries, as he remains focused on one thing and only one. At least for now.
“There are areas that we want to consolidate,” he said. [B]But I don’t want to bore you by being too technical about this.
“Believe me, there are still areas where we focus on our training, where we think we should improve if we are to be able to compete and beat the big guys.
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