MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE) Mark Cardona provided the fireworks with a near triple-double job, leading four other Meralco players in an explosive show as the Bolts rebounded from a previous loss by drubbing a crippled Petron Blaze squad, 95-81, last night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena in Pasay.
Cardona delivered 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Sol Mercado, Rey Hugnatan, Cliff Hodge and Chris Ross also logged huge numbers while working well together in powering the Bolts to their fifth win against three losses.
"After a deflating defeat to Rain or Shine, we want to test our bounce-back genes. We did good," said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
"I think against Rain or Shine, complacency was our No. 1 enemy. Today, from the opening tip, we played with a lockdown defense and our offense hit on all cylinders," Gregorio also said.
True enough, the Bolts came out efficient and tough on both ends, punishing a Petron side that became crippled all the more with Jay Washington crumbling down on the floor late in the third quarter after a collision with a driving Hodge.
The Boosters fell behind by 20 points a few plays later and failed to recover, reeling to their third straight loss and sixth in nine games overall.
Minus Junmar Fajardo, Dorian Peña and Danny Ildefonso, the Boosters battled mostly with a small, quick lineup.
The Bolts, however, more than held their own with their own small lineup featuring Cardona, Mercado, Ross, Hodge and Hugnatan.
Mercado and Hugnatan finished with 22 points each while Hodge added 15 and Ross got away with all-around numbers of nine points, seven assists, six steals, four rebounds and one block against two turnovers.
"Papa Rey (Hugnatan) played with a fountain of youth and he outplayed Petron's big men," Gregorio, making special mention of their small 6-foot-4 center, providing the team early spark with a remarkable 7-of-9 shooting in the first half.
The Bolts pulled away in the final half as Cardona, Mercado and Ross joined the fray.
Ginebra's heart and soul Mark Caguioa played through a cut left brow sustained late in the opening period, scoring 18 of his 22 points in the last three quarters as the Kings pulled the rug from under the pacesetting Talk n Text Tropang Texters, 104-101, later in the night.
The Kings made it two in a row and improved to 4-5 while handing the Texters a second loss against seven wins.