by Jonas Terrado
Rookie Robert Bolick scored a go-ahead layup with 4.6 seconds left to give NorthPort a 93-92 victory over Meralco in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Bolick drove hard to the basket to get past Cliff Hodge and Ranidel de Ocampo to help the Batang Pier end their elimination round campaign with a franchise-best 9-2 record.
“Gusto lang namin ng strong finish before the playoffs,” said coach Pido Jarencio, whose team is still in the hunt for the No. 1 seed.
Meralco went for the win but Chris Newsome missed a reverse layup and Nico Salva failed to convert a tip-in as time expired.
The Bolts dropped to 3-7 with a loss, needing to beat the San Miguel Beermen on Wednesday to stay in the playoff chase.
Meralco’s defeat allowed Magnolia and Rain or Shine, both sharing identical 5-5 records, to clinch the quarterfinals.
Bolick finished with 18 points while import Prince Ibeh had 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for NorthPort.
Import Delroy James scored 17 points, including a layup that put Meralco on top 92-90 with 42 seconds remaining.
Ibeh split his two free throws to trim the gap to 92-91, giving the Bolts a chance to seal the deal on the ensuing play.
But Baser Amer shot an airball from right corner and NorthPort called a 30-second timeout to set up Bolick’s winning layup.
NORTHPORT 93 — Bolick 18, Ibeh 15, Mercado 12, Elorde 10, Ferrer 9, Lanete 9, Tautuaa 6, Cruz 5, Flores 5, Taha 4, Arana 0, Gabayni 0.
MERALCO 92 — Newsome 21, James 17, Amer 16, Hodge 13, De Ocampo 10, Faundo 4, Almazan 4, Quinto 4, Tolomia 2, Hugnatan 1, Salva 0, Pinto 0, Canaleta 0, Jackson 0.
Quarters: 22-28; 45-43; 62-67; 93-92.