SUNDAY HERO FROM OUT OF NOWHERE
SUNDAY Salvacion could not exactly remember when he last sank a game-winner. “Nasa Ginebra pa ako noon, 2008, against Alaska,” was all he could offer.
It doesn’t really matter.
Salvacion has a very fresh one to show after booming in a buzzer-beating triple and lifting Meralco over GlobalPort, 90-89, Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The basket that came off a broken play capped the Bolts’ comeback from as many as 12 points down in the fourth quarter and snapped them out of a three-game slide.
All because of Salvacion, who actually scored eight of Meralco’s last 11 points to wind up with a team-high 20 points in his first game this conference.
Not bad at all for a man who has been known as a shooter but fielded in by head coach Ryan Gregorio to chiefly hound Gary David.
“Sunday has not seen the floor for at least three games, but that’s what veterans come in to do. They come in and play. Fantastic shot by Sunday,” said Gregorio.
“It was a bunot, huling bunot. Buti sinagot ang gamble na iyon. He was in there only to make life miserable for Gary.”
It was only the second win in five games for Meralco, tying it with GlobalPort.
For a long while David seemed well on his way to putting one over both Salvacion and Gregorio as he wound up with 27 points capped by back-to-back triples that pegged an 80-68 count.
Even Willie Miller, who scored a grand total of 16 points in the Batang Pier’s first four games, got in on the fray and finished with 22, including a fastbreak layup that made it 89-81, 2:22 to go.
Then Salvacion really buckled down to work. While holding David scoreless in the stretch he found ways to score before Macmac Cardona’s charities pegged an 87-89 count.
The Bolts regained possession after former rookie teammate Jaypee Belencion missed a triple try and Cliff Hodge, another rookie, hauled down the defensive rebound and promptly calling a timeout that left them 9.5 seconds to work with.
As per instructions, Cardona got the ball but found his path to the basket blocked by defenders, forcing him to pass backwards to the waiting Salvacion.
It marked the second straight game Meralco came charging back from a sizable deficit. Unlike in an 86-88 loss to Petron Blaze, when the Bolts made it tight in the end despite a 22-point deficit after three quarters, they carried this one through.
Eric Dawson finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds, outshining GlobalPort counterpart Justin Williams, who put up only five points and 13 boards.
Williams has an excuse, however, having been hospitalized Saturday due to a bum stomach and was receiving intravenous treatment even before the match.
“We weren’t really expecting him to play, but he pushed himself,” related Batang Pier team manager BJ Manalo.
Williams also tried to do his part on the defensive end, notching four of his total eight blocks in the fourth period that helped fuel GlobalPort’s seemingly inexorable break from a 67-66 score.
It shouldn’t have boiled down to the sorry ending as the Batang Pier actually led by as much as 46-29 when Miller and Belencion joined hands in scoring all of the team’s points during a 22-12 exchange.
Then Salvacion gave a glimpse of things to come by combining with Reynel Hugnatan and Cardona in a 14-0 counter that helped trim the deficit to just 43-48 at the half. (NC)
MERALCO 90 – Salvacion 20, Dawson 19, Hodge 16, Cardona 15, Hugnatan 7, Manuel 4, Buenafe 4, Guevarra 3, Ross 2, Reyes 0, Artadi 0.
GLOBALPORT 89 – David 27, Miller 22, Belencion 15, Aguilar 12, Mercado 6, Williams 5, Mandani 2, Yee 0, Salvador 0, Crisano 0.
Quarterscores: 17-24, 43-48, 66-67, 90-89
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