Meralco banks on defense to beat Alaska

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


MANILA—The Meralco Bolts held Alaska Aces to only two points in the last three minutes to carve an 85-76 win in the 39th PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination round at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

The 6’11 import Brian Butch carried most of the lead for the Bolts, hitting six triples that wrought havoc to the Aces’ defense as they took a nine-point lead, 76-67, going into the last 5:36 of the game. He took the cudgels for the Bolts in the absence of Mike Cortes and Jared Dillinger due to injuries.

“We did a good job competing today. Despite our obvious lack of players we were able to do the job because of defense. This win is a welcome development for us, at least we were able to find ways against Alaska,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

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Butch, a former University of Wisconsin-Madison standout, finished with 27 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots to lead the Bolts first win in two matches. They lost to San Miguel Beermen, 94-76, last March 7.

“It was really defense that spelled the biggest difference for us. The reminder pretty much was you will not really get a lot of minutes when our usual point guards are there. But in the absence of Mike Cortes and Jared Dillinger, we still played well, setting the play well. I told Brian Butch to keep his composure and his emotions intact and just play basketball,” said Gregorio.

The Aces dropped to 1-2. They also lost to to Talk ‘N Text, 85-72, during the opening day on March 5. Their lone win so far was at the expense of Globalport, 93-77, on March 8.

Reynel Hugnatan had 14 points and Gary David and Cliff Hodge combined for 24 points for Meralco. JV Casio paced the Aces with 19 points, while import Rob Dozier managed only 17 and Sonny Thoss had 10 points.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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