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NLEX vs Meralco (03-28-15)

In the last three PBA second conferences, the Meralco Bolts landed in the best-of-three quarterfinals, won the series openers but each time ended up vanquished in the end.

The Bolts hope to write a different story this time.

Again 1-0 up in the race-to-two-games series, the Bolts are raring to deliver the killer blow, hoping to finish off the NLEX Road Warriors in Game Two of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarters showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday.

“It’s a challenge to win Game Two. Hopefully, we can build on our win Friday night,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

The Bolts put together a solid game on both ends, bucking the ouster of Jared Dillinger on injury as they blasted the Road Warriors, 97-82, for the decisive series head start.

Mark Macapagal ably filled in the shoes by Dillinger, coming through with a personal two-year best of 22 points spiked by five triples.

But he’s likely to be a marked man now especially with Dillinger a doubtful starter due to an injury sustained just three minutes into the game Friday.

Black’s rotation didn’t suffer on Dillinger’s exit as wingmen Macapagal, Gary David and Sean Anthony all came out firing.

Macapagal was easily the biggest surprise with his 5-of-10 three-pointers. The five-time PBA Three-Point King didn’t have a single trey as he collected just a total of four points in his first seven games in the tourney.

Not lacking in defensive effort, the Bolts thoroughly beat the Road Warriors, leading by as many as 23 at 93-70.

“We got a good total team effort on defense against (Al) Thornton. Nobody can defend him individually. We have to rotate, recover and close out. So many things involved and we did a good job,” said Black.

With his great energy and intensity, Meralco import Josh Davis dominated the boards, corralling 21 rebounds and making 16 points as against Thornton’s 11 boards and 23 markers.

Anthony, David, Reynel Hugnatan and Mike Cortez also provided firepower as the Bolts snapped a three-game losing skein and avenged a 76-89 loss to the Road Warriors in their elims faceoff. (SB)

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