By Girald Gaston

Meralco and TNT both had a great 'connection' on Wednesday.

After sparking a stellar start, the Meralco Bolts never looked back to take the convincing victory against the San Miguel Beermen, 111-97, to even things up in Game 4 of 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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The Bolts flaunted a 36-23 salvo in the first frame, and shrugged off any Beermen threat en route to its triumph that brought the series to a virtual best-of-three after a 2-2 slate.

Meralco gunners shot the lights out from the field, spearheaded by Aaron Black that registered 21 points, Allein Maliksi and Cliff Hodge contributed with 18-apiece, Raymond Almazan had 17 markers, and Bong Quinto added 11 in the win.

The Bolts almost blew a 19-point early lead after the second quarter rally by the Beermen, 59-54, led by the six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter, but they recovered after the halftime huddle.

Meralco exhibited an electrifying third canto to put the game away once again, outscoring the powerhouse San Miguel, 30-18, to create a comfortable cushion heading to the final quarter, 88-71.

The lead hiked at the high of 22 in the 10:25 mark of the fourth period, 94-72, but it later trimmed down to 15 after a Fajardo conversion, 95-80.

A lucky shot-clock beating bank shot by Hodge in the next possession stopped any momentum from the Beermen side, 98-80, and the Bolts held on to its much-needed win.

CJ Perez tallied game-high 23 points, Lassiter had 22 markers and Fajardo was still solid with 21 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort for the Beermen.

In the second game, TNT Tropang Giga delivered yet another hot shooting night against the Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots, 102-84, to move one win away to another Philippine Cup finals trip.

The defending All-Filipino Cup champions swished 16 triples, and gave the Chicken Timplados a dose of its own medicine on the defensive end to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

TNT held Magnolia to just 37% from the field the whole night long, and outrebounded them for the first time in the series, 50-43, to record the most lopsided win in the Best-of-Seven brawl so far

Tropang Giga saw its main man Mikey Williams being held scoreless in the first half, but the mainstays Poy Erram, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario took the offensive duties until the Rookie-Finals MVP caught fire.

Erram displayed another solid outing, tallying a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds, Pogoy added 18, 15 came from the first half and Rosario had 15 points and 8 boards for TNT.

Williams saved his best for last, as he dazzled in the final quarter with four triples, including the 30-foot three pointer that extended the advantage to 23, 95-72, highest of the game.

It was a close match at the end of first half, 42-38, but the Tropang Giga pulled away in the third frame with its dominance on both ends of the floor, 70-54.

Ian Sangalang paced the Hotshots with 19 points, and Paul Lee scored a series-high 17 points but it wasn't enough to propel the foul-plagued Chicken Timplados.

Game five of both series will take place on Friday.