Hotshots, Bolts sweeps way to semis

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - March 29, 2015 - 5:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -- Defending champion Purefoods and Meralco swept past Alaska Milk and NLEX in their respective quarterfinals showdowns and joined Talk n Text and Rain or Shine in the Final Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.

The Hotshots broke away in the third quarter then fended off an Alaska rally to pull off a 96-89 win while the Bolts waged a big fightback from 20 points down to beat the Road Warriors, 91-85, in overtime.

“It certainly got scary in the end. It’s a big relief to get through the quarterfinals against a tough opponent like Alaska,” said coach Tim Cone whose Purefoods team advanced to the best-of-five semis against Talk n Text.

“I thought my team played with lots of guts in the second half. It’s a gutsy performance and it’s nice to be in the semis,” said coach Norman Black after his Meralco squad arranged a separate semis duel with Rain or Shine.

The Elasto Painters and the Bolts start their Final Four faceoff at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Big Dome while the Hotshots and the Texters play Game One of their battle Wednesday at the same venue.

Purefoods showed great staying power in booting out Alaska while Meralco put in display its big fighting heart in rallying from 20 points down and easing out NLEX.

“We made the adjustments at the half and we cut down their points in the second half,” said Black, steering Meralco to the semis in his second conference with the team.

“Rain or Shine was saying they had the toughest battle in the quarterfinals, but we had our own tough battle. Alaska showed their character. Though we led by 20, they didn’t quit. They were hard to stop down the stretch,” Cone said.

The Aces got to within four, 84-88, then missed crucial shots, allowing the Hotshots to regroup and eventually score a follow-up on their dominant wire-to-wire 120-86 win in Game One Friday.

“Now we go up against Talk n Text, and that should be a whale of a series,” said Cone of their semis duel against the team that had its dominant ride in the league before the Purefoods four-peat.

“They’re playing well and we’re playing well. That should be a good series,” Cone also said of the rematch of the two teams that disputed the Commissioner’s Cup crown last year.

The Hotshots and the Tropang Texters posted an identical 8-3 win-loss cards in the elimination round.

At 88-84, the Hotshots stopped the Aces’ nine-point roll then Marc Pingris scored on a baseline attack off Damion James as Purefoods eased the pressure, 90-84, with 1:17 left to play.

Then the Hotshots made another crucial stoppage to deliver the knockout blow on the Philippine Cup runners-up.

Alaska fell by the wayside, joining Blackwater, Kia, Globalport, San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Barako Bull.

Bowles, a former Best Import winner in this conference, churned out 32 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and one assist, giving the Hotshots a big boost in this game where they led by 20 at 75-55.

The Hotshots barely took the half at 46-43 but stayed ahead all throughout the last 24 minutes of play.

Joe Devance knocked in four triples and a total of 16 points while Mark Barroca and James Yap added 14 and 11, respectively.            

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