Cliff Hodge and Reynel Hugnatan provided an ultra-charged performance to give Meralco the boost they needed to outlast NLEX, 107-94, and enter the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The second-seeded Bolts bucked an early attack by the Road Warriors, with the veteran Hugnatan delivering 20 points and 7 rebounds and Hodge posting 19 markers and 9 boards.
Jared Dillinger added 18 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists, Chris Newsome chipped in 15 points, 6 boards and 4 dimes, and import Arinze Onuaku had 13 points and 11 rebounds in a balanced effort for Meralco.
NLEX scoring machine Al Thornton erupted for 38 points and 14 boards, but only rookie Garvo Lanete, who had 21, provided the bright spot for the Road Warriors’ locals.
The win completed the Bolts’ turnaround from minnows in the Philippine Cup to serious contenders in the ongoing conference.
Meralco will face the winner of the Tropang TNT-Alaska series, which the Tropa leads, 1-0. — By John Bryan Ulanday