By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Columbian Dyip put a stop to their three-game losing streak in the PBA Philippine Cup, defeating the Meralco Bolts, 86-85, in the league’s return after a two-break on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Showed dogged determination, the Dyip (3-4) outlasted the Bolts (2-4) to return to the win column in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament.
Wednesday’s match incidentally marked the return of the PBA after giving way to the successful campaign of the league-backed Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Meralco was on its element to begin the contest, doing it on both ends to claim a 24-11 lead by the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, Columbian played with more bearing.
Led by Rashawn McCarthy and CJ Perez, the Dyip made their way to within four points, 38-34, by the 3:26 mark of the frame.
But the Bolts went on a 7-2 run in the next minute to mount a 45-36 separation before eventually settling for a 45-42 advantage at the half.
The two combatants engaged in a slugfest with Mr. McCarthy leading Columbian and countered by Baser Amer for Meralco.
The score was at 56-all with 3:36 to go in the quarter; a setup that would hold at 66-all entering the payoff quarter.
With the outcome of the match still very open, the teams tried to will themselves over the other and establish momentum heading into the homestretch.
Columbian had early success, opening the quarter with a 6-0 run to take a 72-66 lead in the first two minutes.
Meralco though would make a 5-0 blitz of its own in the next minute to come within one point, 72-71.
A back-and-forth then ensued that saw the teams at a tight 79-78 count, with the Dyip ahead, at the halfway point of the quarter.
Mr. McCarthy once again led another Columbian run, pulling his team to an 86-80 distance entering the last two minutes.
Chris Newsome pulled Meralco to within four, 86-82, with a pair of free throws with 1:15 to go before adding a triple with 35 ticks remaining to make it a one-point affair, 86-85.
Mr. Perez tried to extend Columbian’s lead but his short jab at the basket with 14 seconds left failed to connect after which Meralco sued for time to execute a play.
The Bolts milked the clock and tried to win the game but the Dyip’s defense held up, forcing Mr. Amer to a contested triple as the final buzzer sounded.
Mr. McCarthy had a career-high 30 points for Columbian in the victory with Glenn Khobuntin and Eric Camson adding 14 and 10 points, respectively.
For the Bolts it was Mr. Newsome who showed the way with 17 points with Ranidel de Ocampo and Cliff Hodge finishing with 14 apiece.
“It’s nice to be back here after three straight losses,” said Columbian coach John Cardel during the postgame press conference for the winning team.
“During the break I allowed the players to get some break but worked as well on our game. We’re happy to have won and looking forward to our next game,” added the coach whose wards face off with the Blackwater Elite on Friday.