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Bolts sweep past Road warriors

MANILA, Philippines — The stage is set for another high-powered post-season duel between Meralco and Barangay Ginebra.

With the Gin Kings waiting in the Season 48 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, the Bolts took care of business and hammered a two-game sweep of quarterfinal foe NLEX, 100-81, last night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

After rallying to a 97-93 win and bucking Robert Bolick’s 48-point scorcher in Game 1, the Bolts turned on full power defensively and offensively to finish off the Road Warriors in the race-to-two and follow Ginebra to the best-of-seven series.

The No. 2 and twice-to-beat Gin Kings had already advanced Saturday with a 99-77 rout of No. 7 Magnolia.

The Bolts and the Gin Kings will duel for the eighth time in the playoffs since Season 41, a rivalry marked by three finals entanglements.

While limiting Bolick to 18 on 6-of-18 shooting, the Bolts also did a better job getting buckets, making 49.3 percent of their shots (37-of-75).

Chris Banchero dropped 14 of his game-high 23 in the fourth quarter as he ignited a telling 24-11 exchange that put Game 2 beyond NLEX’ reach.

Earlier, Rain or Shine’s youth brigade showed more poise in the endgame this time to secure a lifesaving 121-113 Game 2 win over TNT.

Wiser coming off a fourth-quarter meltdown in their opening  99-116 loss, the E-Painters outsteadied the Tropang Giga and unleashed an 11-2 salvo in the last 2:38 to force their opponents to a 1-1 tie and a deciding third game.

At the forefront of ROS’ gritty stance was Jhonard Clarito, who gunned down a career-high 29 points built around a perfect 5-of-5 marksmanship from beyond the arc.

Clarito’s last triple was part of the E-Painters’ bombardment towards the finish.