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HomeSportPBA: Meralco ousts NLEX, books semis vs Ginebra

PBA: Meralco ousts NLEX, books semis vs Ginebra

Chris Banchero Meralco Bolts PBA

Meralco Bolts guard Chris Banchero during a game against the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals.–PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Neck-and-neck with the enemy for most of the contest, Meralco found gaps in NLEX’s game in the final period to carve out a 100-81 and punch a ticket to the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.

Chris Banchero starred for the Bolts, who disposed of their corporate sibling in two games and arranged a best-of-seven duel against old tormentor Barangay Ginebra.

“We kind of let them into the game again [but] in the second half, we locked down in terms of what we needed to do. We just allowed them 31 points … I think it was just that second half where we outplayed them. You saw how close these quarters have been for us. It was just nip-and-tuck,” head coach Luigi Trillo said shortly after the triumph at Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila.

READ: PBA: Meralco wary of Robert Bolick ahead of Game 2

Banchero poured 14 of his 23 points in the payoff frame, and then finished the duel with seven rebounds and six assists. Cliff Hodge and Allein Maliksi chipped in 14 points each. Bong Quinto, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Newsome all finished with twin-digit scores as Meralco booked their fourth straight Final Four appearance in the league’s crown jewel tournament.

Robert Bolick wound up with 18 points, losing steam when it mattered most for the Road Warriors who were one of the surprise packages of this tournament. The spitfire guard was scoreless in the fourth just as Banchero caught fire.

Dominic Fajardo added 15 points, Robbie Herndon 11, and rookie Richie Rodger 10 in the losing stand.

Meralco and Ginebra renew their playoff rivalry this coming Friday in a yet-to-be-determined venue.

The Scores:

MERALCO 100 – Banchero 23, Hodge 14, maliksi 14, Quinto 13, Newsome 12, Almazan 10, Caram 5, Torres 5, Pasaol 2, bates 2

NLEX 81 – Bolick 18, Fajardo 15, Herndon 11, Rodger 10, Semerad 9, Amer 5, Marcelo 5, Valdez 5, Miranda 3, Nieto 0, Anthony 0

Quarterscores: 27-26, 52-49, 76-70, 100-81.

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