MANILA, Philippines - Meralco Bolts surged past a James Yap-less San Mig Coffee, 87-77, and gained the fourth seeding that pitted them with the fifth-ranked Aces at the close of the elimination last night at the MOA Arena.
Though merely playing for seeding purposes, Mark Cardona, Reynel Hugnatan and Sol Mercado still played a heads-up game and led the Bolts to their highest finish in elimination round in the pro league.
Meralco closed out with an 8-6 win-loss card for fourth place behind Talk n Text, San Mig Coffee and Rain or Shine.
"We wanted to put our spirit to test. This is the best finish for our young franchise. We wanted to break barriers," said Rain or Shine coach Ryan Gregorio.
"The possibility of playing Rain or Shine was on our minds but it would only happen if we lose this game. Our minds are now focused on Alaska," Gregorio said.
"One focal point is to stop Calvin Abueva and we have (stoppers) in Chris Hodge, Gilbert Bulawan and Sunday Salvacion. Alaska is not as physical as Rain or Shine. But when playoff time comes, you want to be ready," Gregorio added.
Playing a non-bearing game, San Mig Coffee opted to rest Yap and failed to match Meralco’s energy, winding up with a 10-4 slate.
Yap is nursing bone spurs, but is expected to be back Thursday when the Mixers take the first of two shots at the semifinals versus the seventh-ranked Petron Blaze Boosters.
Later in the night, Talk n Text jacked up its record as the elims topnotcher, fighting back from a 17-point deficit to turn back Barangay Ginebra, 87-80.
The Texters ended their elims campaign with a remarkable 12-2 card while the Kings finished at 7-7.
The other quarters pairing pits top seed Talk n Text against No. 8 Air21.
Cardona, Hugnatan and Mercado combined for 42 points for the Bolts while PJ Simon topscored for the Mixers with 19.
Simon himself slowed down after back-to-back personal conference high outputs of a 24 and a 27.