Greg Slaughter’s fourth quarter efforts weren’t enough to lift the Barangay Ginebra Kings over the Meralco Bolts, who knotted an 85-74 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena to kick off the Commissioner’s Cup.
Imports leading the way
Both teams exchanged baskets to start the match, until Meralco caught fire to lead by as much as eight. Import Josh Davis chipped in six points and grabbed eight boards to help the Bolts to a 18-13 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
Returning import Michael Dunigan chipped in six points and three rebounds for the Kings.
Ginebra limited their turnovers to two but Meralco was still able to build a nine-point lead before going into halftime. Ahead by 13 with 3:02 remaining in the first half, the Bolts managed to retain the lead via a 42% shooting clip in the second quarter. The Kings only shot 36% in the period.
In the middle of the third quarter, Norman Black’s wards launched a 12-1 rally to put the game out of Ginebra’s reach. Ato Agustin then called for a timeout, but the Bolts went on another 6-0 run that saw the crowd favorites down by 19 at 62-43. Josh Urbiztondo’s triples helped Ginebra close out the quarter down by only 14, 50-64.
Slaughter took over in the final quarter but steady offense from the Bolts prevented a comeback from the Never-Say-Die squad.
“It’s a great start for us beating Ginebra in the opening game,” said Meralco head coach Black, who commended his big men. He cited the efforts of 40-year-old John Ferriols and Cliff Hodge.
Black also gave special mention to his import Davis who, albeit shooting a miserable 37% from the field, scored 25 points and bagged 24 boards.
Meralco will be facing Kia Carnival on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome while the Kings will square off against Barako Bull on Sunday in Biñan, Laguna.