Meralco beat Alaska 86-70 in Game 4 on Monday to force a deciding Game 5 in the best-of-five semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Jared Dillinger posted nine of his 17 points in the third quarter plus five rebounds while the 6’8 import Arinze Onuaku shook off a sluggish first quarter performance scoring 16 points in the last three quarters on 7-of-11 shooting in the field in addition to 16 rebounds, five blocks and four assists.
“This game is basically just about trying to live another day,” said Meralco coach Norman Black during the postgame interview. “We really got back to the basics as far as our defense is concerned. Arinze had a lot of energy today, he controlled the rebounds for us.”
“My local players stepped up particularly Dillinger. Now that we’re here we’ll try to win Game 5. At this point in the season, why worry about what happened before,” Black added.
Cliff Hodge notched 14 points, 12 rebounds and a block while Bryan Faundo finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Playmaker Anjo Caram contributed eight points while Chris Newsome had seven points, six assists and three rebounds also for the Bolts.
Hodge, who already posted 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half, led the Bolts to a slim 36-34 halftime lead over the Aces. Faundo came off the bench with six points and six rebounds, while Onuaku and Dillinger added six points to give Meralco a comfortable advantage in the first half.
Meralco capitalized on strong defense in the first two quarters limiting Alaska’s scoring capability. The Bolts shot 39 percent while the Aces 31 percent overall in the field in the first half.
Meralco converted 10-of-14 free throws in the first half while the Aces scored only 5-of-8.
Alaska managed to reduce Meralco’s lead from 46-37 to only 54-52 with less than two minutes left after Dozier scored eight points in the third period.
But the Bolts responded with a 10-0 blast highlighted by Dillinger’s three-point shot resulting in a 10-point lead – 62-52 – at the end of third frame. Dillinger had a perfect 3-of-3 attempts beyond the three-point zone.
Veteran point guard Jimmy Alapag, who contributed six points, three assists and two steals, provided Meralco a hefty lead, 82-66, with two minutes to go in the game. It all went easy for the Bolts then to seal their Game 4 triumph.
Import Robert Dozier led Alaska with 18 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. He managed to score but one point in the fourth quarter. Calvin Abueva and RJ Jazul finished with 10 points each for the Aces.
Game 5 is set on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the same venue.