No big lead needed to be erased this time
Allen Durham outplayed Kris Acox. Again. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
One team can inch closer to a return to the PBA Governors' Cup Finals anew, with a win tonight. Another team can tie the series at 1-1 and bounce back from a forgettable meltdown in Game 1. The Meralco Bolts and the Star Hotshots are aiming for different goals for Game 2 but both will require the same thing for the both of two teams: an all-important win in Game 2.
As it turned out, the Meralco Bolts learned from their mistakes in the first game of the series as they regained their dominant form to beat the Star Hotshots in Game 2 of their best-of-5 semifinal series after a 98-74 victory over the Hotshots which puts Meralco one win away from booking their ticket to the Governors' Cup Finals.
As soon as Justin Melton scored the Hotshots' first two points of the game, Allen Durham and the Bolts didn't wait long and answer right back. 3 minutes into the game, Jared Dillinger, who was one of the reasons why the Bolts won Game 1, drained his first trey of the night to give Meralco a 12-5 lead, forcing a visibly frustrated Chito Victolero to call a timeout.
Then, Cliff Hodge gave his team their first taste of a double-digit lead on a mid-range jumper as Baser Amer followed that up with a 3-pointer to put his team up, at 19-6. Allen Durham later scored on a fadeaway jumper to make it 23-8 for the Bolts approaching the final 3 minutes of the quarter with the Hotshots missing a big chunk of their attempts thanks to the equally frustrating defense of Meralco.
After the first 12 minutes of action, the Bolts held a 30-11 advantage and a big part of that was their better shot selection which resulted to them making 66% of their shot attempts in the first quarter alone and successfully limited Star to make only 5 of 22 shots in the field.
Ranidel de Ocampo, a seasoned shooter himself, opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer as the Bolts' lead increased to 22. The lead went up to as high as 23 to as low as 16, 38-23 as Star continued to make a significant scoring run throughout the second quarter.
And finally, the Hotshots were able to drain their first 3-pointer of the night after 4 straight misses on Aldrich Ramos' long-distance bomb with 4:55 before halftime, prompting Norman Black to talk things out with his boys. And the Bolts responded positively a Meralco Bolts went on a 6-0 scoring to put back the lead to 22 with under 3:30 to play in the second frame. Both teams went into the halftime break with Meralco at the lead, at 53-32.
Baser Amer already had 14 points after 2 quarters- including 3 made shots from deep. Allen Durham added 10 points while Chris Newsome, who only had 7 points in Game 1, already had 8 at the half in Game 2. The Bolts' unselfishness, which resulted in Meralco dishing out 15 assists in the first half alone was one of the reasons why they were able to dominate early on.
For the Star Hotshots, many things went terribly wrong for them in the first half. Nobody had scored in double figures in the first half as import Kris Acox had 7 points on 3 of 8 shooting. To give you an idea how bad the Hotshots' offense was during the first 24 minutes of the game, they only made 1 of their 8 attempts from outside the arc. They weren't better shooting in the 2-point area as they only made 34% of their shots in that particular area as compared to the Bolts which made 73% of their inside attempts.
Like he did in the first quarter, Jared Dillinger drained the Bolts' first three-pointer in the second half which was followed by a posterizing slam dunk by Allen Durham. And speaking of the three-point shot, Allen Durham later scored one that made it 63-34 with under 8 minutes to go in the third quarter. After Star went on a mini-scoring run that decreased the deficit to 22, Jared Dillinger, again, delivered from the rainbow country as his trey increased the lead to 30, at 73-43. The Bolts entered the final quarter with 78-48 lead.
In the 4th quarter, after Ranidel de Ocampo scored on another three-point shot, the Star Hotshots went on another scoring run to make it 81-58 with under 10 minutes to play, prompting another timeout from Norman Black. Then, Mark Barroca drained two technical charities off a flagrant foul from Chris Newsome and Rafi Reavis added another jumper to push the lead down to 19, the closest they had been in the entire second half. Another Dillinger trey put the lead back up to 26 after Meralco was able to answer that Star run. The Bolts' lead never reached below 20 points the rest of the way.
Allen Durham followed up his Game 1 performance with 18 points and 25 huge rebounds. Ranidel De Ocampo scored 18 points too to provide the much-needed leadership off the bench. Another player who scored 18 points for the Bolts was none other than Jared Dillinger who drained 6 of his 8 attempts from outside the arc. Baser added 16 points and dished out 8 assists. The Bolts shot 52% in the field including 42% from outside.
For Star, only Mark Barroca and Mon Abundo were the only players who scored in double figures for the Hotshots as they scored 16 and 14 respectively. Kris Acox was again, a non-factor in this game as he scored 9 points on 4 of 12 field goal shooting. The Hotshots' inability to make the most out of their possessions is just one of the many things which doomed them early on as they only made 31% of their shot attempts.
Meralco - 98
Durham 18, Dillinger 18, De Ocampo 18, Amer 16, Newsome 10, Hodge 9, Tolomia 7, Faundo 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Lanete 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Nabong 0
Star - 74
Barroca 16, Abundo 14, Acox 9, Ramos 8, Sangalang 6, Melton 5, Pingris 5, Reavis 4, dela Rosa 4, Brondial 3, Lee 0, Jalalon 0, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, Pascual 0
30-11, 53-32, 78-48, 98-74