Meralco forces a battle for the eighth seed, TNT locks up the top

The Meralco Bolts played like there was no tomorrow. They fended off the San Miguel Beermen in the end game to pull out a tough 95-91 win. Meralco tied Alaska at 4-7 with that win, forcing a KO game for the final Playoff slot. The Beermen finish with the seventh seed at 5-6.

Delroy James had a big game. He scored 34 points to lead all players in scoring. He also had five rebounds, six assists and four steals to round out his all-around statline. Chris Newsome added 20 points and six rebounds while Raymond Almazan had 15 and seven. June Mar Fajardo and Chris McCullough added 27 points each.

With heavy Playoff implications on the line, both teams refused to let either one gain any ground during the game. The score was knotted at 42 heading into the half, highlighting the effort both teams put into keeping the game close.

After trading leads for most of the game, the Bolts were able to break through as Bryan Faundo scored back-to-back baskets followed by a Newsome three-pointer. That gave Meralco a five-point lead midway through the third. Newsome continued to attack, keeping Meralco ahead and James hit a three-pointer to end the period, keeping the Bolts up by four.

In the final period, the Beermen made a comeback. Fajardo’s and-one play midway through the quarter put San Miguel up by four. But Newsome and James had a quick reply. Newsome scored four straight points to tie the game, leading to a go-ahead bucket by Baser Amer. James then scored six straight points to push Meralco ahead by four. That lead stood until the end as Meralco prevented the Beermen from scoring any more points in the final 30 seconds of the game.

In the second game, the TNT KaTropa locked up the top seed with another strong showing. They easily got past the Magnolia Hotshots, 98-83 to win their eighth straight game. TNT finishes the elims with a 10-1 record while Magnolia ends up at fifth with a 5-6 slate.

Terrence Jones almost got another triple-double. He scored 26 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out eight assists to lead TNT. RR Pogoy backed him up with 20 points on four triples. Paul Lee led Magnolia with 23 points.

From a slim two-point lead, the KaTropa locals teamed up to go on a 10-0 run midway through the second quarter to build a 12-point lead. Pogoy caught fire during that stretch, scoring eight of the 10 points in that blast. Jones and Pogoy then teamed up for another 7-0 run to help TNT jump out ahead by 14. They settled for an eight-point lead heading to the half.

The Hotshots tried to get back in the game in the second half. But TNT was firing on all cylinders at that point. Jones and Pogoy were joined by Jayson Castro and Marion Magat. They were able to find an answer to every Magnolia basket. They held a double-digit lead all the way to the end.