Jonas Villanueva had his Easter resurrection, dishing out a giant scoreless fourth quarter to help B-Meg top Meralco, 86-76, in their knockout duel for the last slot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four.
Villanueva, the heady guard who’s just back from a yearlong layoff, rose up with clutch hustle
plays igniting a fiery B-Meg finish that set up a best-of-five semifinal confrontation between the Llamados and the Barangay Ginebra Kings beginning Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
Earlier, Barako Bull bundled out Alaska Milk, 106-85, to advance to the semis versus defending
champion Talk n Text.
“I think the only thing I did good tonight was putting in Jonas in the fourth quarter. That’s
the deciding factor, turning the game around for us,” said B-Meg coach Tim Cone.
“PJ (Simon) played well down the stretch; Denzel (Bowles) was also there; Joe (Devance) played
well for a while; Marc Pingris was huge down the stretch; James Yap was a consistent threat. But it came down to Jonas,” Cone insisted.
The B-Meg bench chieftain lauded Villanueva for facilitating their offense and playing good defense on Sol Mercado as the Llamados outhustled and outmaneuvered the Bolts in the payoff period.
The Llamados wiped out a six-point deficit and prevailed with a double-digit margin as they held the Bolts without a single field-goal basket in the last 11 minutes.
Villanueva logged two rebounds and two assists with one of his feeds setting up Bowles for a
two-handed jam off Earl Barron that sparked their decisive run from 72-73 count.
Drawing second wind, Bowles poured in 11 points in the last quarter as against Barron’s three.
Curiously, Barron faded away at the finish, going 0-of-7 from the field in final period. The whole Meralco team missed all its last 16 field goals.
Mark Cardona failed to recover from his early disqualification in Game Two and was a non-factor in this do-or-die game. A shin injury didn't help the former La Salle star.
Simon and Devance fired 16 and 15, respectively, helping the Llamados arrange a first playoff series with the Kings in 15 years.
The two popular ball clubs met in the Philippine Cup finals in 1988 and 1997 with Purefoods (now
B-Meg) prevailing in their first matchup and Ginebra getting even in the next.
“It’s just so nice to advance,” said Cone, beating Ryan Gregorio for the first time in four
B-MEG 86 - Bowles 28, Simon 16, Devance 15, Yap 9, Barroca 6, Pingris 6, Intal 2, Reavis 2, De
Ocampo 2, Urbiztondo 0, Villanueva 0.
MERALCO 76 - Mercado 27, Barron 23, Hugnatan 10, Ross 9, Macapagal 3, Cardona 2, Taulava 2, Borboran 0, Artadi 0.
Quarters: 21-23, 42-40, 61-67, 86-76