Bong Quinto of Meralco shoots a jumper over Kelly Nabong of NorthPort during their game Wednesday afternoon. (PBA Images)

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Meralco sustained its winning form entering the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals after edging out also-ran NorthPort, 80-73, Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena here. 

The Bolts erected a 19-point lead before staving off the Batang Pier’s late rally to go on a two-game winning streak heading into their first playoff appearance in the All-Filipino tournament in five years. 

“We have to put that aside already and start focusing on trying to get into the semis. Getting into the quarterfinals is a great start but it’s not the way we want to finish the league,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. 

The Bolts closed the eliminations with a 7-4 slate, tying TNT, San Miguel and Alaska, but had to settle for a twice-to-win disadvantage in the last eight. Their final seeding will be determined after the last two games of the eliminations. 

Bong Quinto led with 14 points and eight rebounds while Raymond Almazan and Chris Newsome tallied 11 markers each to go with a combined 14 boards. 

Baser Amer and Trevis Jackson added 10 points apiece in the win that saw Meralco take a massive 69-50 lead early in the fourth quarter. 

But NorthPort trimmed the gap down to 73-76 with 1:57 left behind Jervy Cruz, Kevin Ferrer and Paolo Taha. 

Almazan hit the go-ahead basket for a 78-73 lead with 24 seconds remaining before the Bolts held on to the victory. 

Jervy Cruz had 15 points and 17 rebounds even as Kelly Nabong and Taha had 14 markers each for NorthPort, which played sans Christian Standhardinger and Garvo Lanete. 

The Batang Pier exited the bubble with a dismal 1-10 record 

The scores: 

MERALCO 80 — Quinto 14, Newsome 11, Almazan 11, Jackson 10, Amer 10, Jamito 6, Black 5, Faundo 4, Maliksi 3, Hodge 2, Salva 2, Caram 2, Jose 0, Pinto 0. 

NORTHPORT 73 — Cruz 15, Taha 14, Nabong 14, Subido 9, Ferrer 9, Guinto 7, Manganti 2, Revilla 2, Elorde 1. 

Quarters: 23-14, 39-30, 67-50, 80-73

Source: Manila Bulletin (