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Meralco nips Star in grind-out battle

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The Meralco Bolts stepped up defensively down the stretch and converted on crucial baskets to edge the Star Hotshots, 83-81 in a back-and-forth tussle in the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup Sunday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Down 75-77 midway through the fourth period, Bolts guard Gary David forced back to back turnovers from the Hotshots which turned into four straight points in transition for Meralco as the team took a 79-77 edge with under three minutes left.

Baskets by Andre Emmett and Marc Pingris made it 81-79 before an uncontested basket by Danny Idefonso coming off a Cliff Hodge steal after a Pingris rebound pushed the Meralco lead to 4, 83-79.

Alex Mallari responded on the other end with a strong drive to the hoop, 83-81, before the Hotshots forced an 8-second backcourt violation to gain an opportunity to tie the game.

However, the Bolts denied an alley-oop option to Marqus Blakely and instead forced the Hotshots to go to Joe Devance, who collided with Cliff Hodge in a desperate attempt to fish a foul, although the referees let go of the play.

The Bolts garnered possession in the final 8.1 seconds but Emmett turned the ball over after a vaunted trap by Pingris and Devance forced him to the sidelines, eventually losing the ball and leaving 5 seconds for the Hotshots to operate.

With one final crack at the basket, Blakely received the ball on top of the key and heaved a three-point try that only kissed the front of the rim and out.

“We really executed defensively and in order to do that we have to have to right personnel on the floor,” Bolts head coach Norman Black said.

Emmett led Meralco with 37 points and added 15 rebounds and 6 assists in the victory that pushed the squad to 2-2, while dropping Star to 1-2 in the conference.

Japanese import Seiya Ando was the only other Bolt in double digits, finishing with 11 points. Blakely led the Hotshots with 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists, although turned the ball over 10 times.

The scores

Meralco (83) – Emmett 37, Ando 11, Hodge 8, Ildefonso 8, Cortez 5, Anthony 4, David 4, Wilson 3, Guevarra 2, Hugnatan 1, Ferriols 0, Sena 0.

Star (81) – Blakely 20, Devance 15, Mallari 13, Yap 8, Melton 7, Reavis 6, Simon 4, Barroca 4, Pingris 4, Pennisi 0.

Quarters: 19-18, 41-42, 63-64, 83-81.

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