Meralco nips Ginebra to force sudden-death for Finals slot

·2 min read

PAMPANGA The ageless Reynel Hugnatan scored the go-ahead basket for Meralco that sent their semifinals series against Ginebra to a winner-take-all match. / PBA

Veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan came up big in crunchtime, as he hit a long jumper with 15.1 seconds remaining help give the Meralco Bolts a thrilling 83-80 win over the Barangay Ginebra Kings in Game Four of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena in Pampanga.

Down one, 79-80, after Japeth Aguilar sank a midrange jumper for Ginebra, Meralco answered with a well-designed play that saw wingman Chris Newsome suck the defense before passing it off to Hugnatan who was open on the left wing. The 42-year old delivered by sinking a long jumper that gave Meralco the lead, 81-80, with just 15 seconds left.

Ginebra had a shot at retaking the lead but Stanley Pringle missed a layup and got another attempt blocked by Raymond Almazan. Newsome then sank an uncontested layup on the other end for the final tally.

Hugnatan finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists while Newsome and Cliff Hodge had 16 points each. Newsome added 11 rebounds, five assists and an incredible six steals.

Game Five is set on Friday.

Hugnatan finished with 19 points for Meralco in Game Four but none bigger than the long twinner he converted off a pass by Chris Newsome that gave the Bolts a slim lead they were able to protect until the final buzzer.

A subject of bashing from fans after being wrongfully accused of saying the words ‘Lutong luto ‘to ah’ in Game Three, Hugnatan broke the hearts of Ginebra supporters after his crucial two forced a sudden death set on Friday. (JNP)