Down double digits and trailing the majority of the first 24 minutes of play, the Meralco Bolts turned it around during the second half by outscoring the Kia Carnival by twelve points to pull off a 90-80 win and improved to a clean 2-0 record in the tournament at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Gary David anchored the scoring with 25 points in 15 shots. Import Josh Davis poured in 19 markers to pace the Bolts to their second win. He added 19 rebounds, made nine out of his 10 free throws and had seven steals to add to his impressive stat line. Jai Reyes also contributed huge off the bench with a career-high 16 markers including three long-range baskets.
Kia import PJ Ramos made his presence felt early, grabbing the lion’s share of rebounds in the opening quarter to help the Carnival build an early double-digit advantage, 14-4. The Bolts were limited to six quiet points in the first ten minutes of the ball game as the trapping defense of Kia worked well. Two free throws by Sean Anthony and a pullup jumper by John Ferriols capped a 6-2 late quarter run by Meralco to trim the deficit to six. Ramos grabbed five boards to pace Kia in leading the rebounding department early.
Kia’s sharp defense helped them deny Meralco’s attempts at a comeback. Two potential fastbreak attempts for Meralco were thwarted by the transition defense that led to buckets by the Carnival’s bench. Ramos drilled in a three-pointer with less than eight minutes to play in the opening half to give Kia their largest lead of the half, 25-14. Despite mini-rallies put up by the Bolts, the Carnival used its three-point bombs to stop their drought. The Bolts settled for doubling up Ramos but too much aggression put them in foul trouble. The giant from Puerto Rico had his woes from the foul stripe that opened up scoring chances for Meralco.
Scoring finally opened up for Meralco in the last two minutes of the quarter as Reyes and David combined for the Bolts’ 10-2 rally, scoring five each to head into halftime down by two, 36-38. Ramos, who posted a monstrous 41-point, 20-rebound effort last time against GlobalPort, was on pace for another dominant performance as he tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds by the break.
The Bolts unleashed a flurry of perimeter baskets to finally take the lead from Kia. Reyes poured in five points including a three-pointer during the 9-3 encounter as the Bolts started the second half clicking on all cylinders. Adding more pressure, Meralco clobbered the Kia beast, denying the 7’3″ big man the ball and drawing double and triple teams whenever he got the ball down low. Meralco scored 13 points quickly in less than four minutes to start the third period. A gorgeous give-and-go play between Danny Ildefonso and David helped Meralco erect a 10-point lead while Kia could not find the mark with their perimeter jumpers. Split free throws from Davis gave the Bolts their largest lead at 14, 62-48.
With Davis resting, Kia surged to trim the deficit to as little as four. But upon returning, Davis responded with a quick and-one play off a floater to keep the Carnival at bay. Crucial baskets from Kyle Pascual and Joshua Webb aided Kia while their import was denied of ball touches in the paint. Kia clawed back to within one but David punched in a fast 5-0 counter. In addition, Davis intercepted the passing lane with a little over three minutes to play for a fastbreak layup and restored a nine-point cushion for Meralco. The Bolts were also making their shots from the charity stripe and offensive rebounds gave them second chances to hinder any chance of a Kia comeback.
Ramos topscored everyone with his 34 points while also getting 21 boards. The import however had seven turnovers and missed eight free throws.
Despite losing the rebounding battle 43-52, Meralco committed less turnovers, 13-19, and shot a better clip from downtown with 47% compared to Kia’s 21%.
Meralco (90) – David 25, Davis 19, Reyes 16, Anthony 6, Ildefonso 6, Hugnatan 6, Hodge 4, Wilson 4, Ferriols 4, Sena 0,
Kia (80) – Ramos 34, Buensuceso 11, Webb 6, Poligrates 6, Cawaling 5, Yee 5, Pascual 4, Ighalo 4, Revilla 3, Burtscher 2, Padilla 0, Alvarez 0
Quarter scores: 12-18, 36-38, 62-56, 90-80