Meralco First PBA championship for the Meralco Bolts. PBA photos

Meralco is PBA champion

June 18, 2024 Robert Andaya 222 views
Meralco players celebrate.
Honda-PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player Chris Newsome.

FINALLY, there’s light for the Meralco Bolts.

After 14 years in the league and four runner-up finishes, Meralco Bolts are finally PBA champions.

Chris Newsome delivered the game-winning shot — a pressure-packed fadeaway jumper off the outstretched arms of Don Trollano with 1.3 seconds left — as Meralco survived San Miguel Beer, 80-78, in Game 6 of their best-of-seven championship series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With the win, the Bolts finished off the Beermen, 4-2.

Newsome topscored for the Luigi Trillo-mentored Bolts as he finished with 13 of his 15 points in the second half in a heroic effort that finally rewarded Meralco its first-ever PBA championship after many years of heartbreaks and disappointments.

Newsome, who was named as Honda-PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player, came through with the key baskets in the end despite struggling with a dismal 4-of-17 shooting from the field.

The Fil-Am guard from Ateneo de Manila added five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 40 minutes of action to capture his first PBA championship.

Allein Maliksi added 14 points, Bong Quinto had 11 points and Chris Banchero had an all-around game of 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to help the Bolts secure their first-ever PBA championships.

Raymond Almazan chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Seven-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo led the losing effort for the Beermen with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting, 12 rebounds and five assists in 43 minutes of play for coach Jorge Gallent.

Fajardo’s desperation three-point shot also tied the score at 78-all with only 3.3 seconds left only to be erased by Newsome’s game-winner.

CJ Perez had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, Marcio Lassiter added 11 points and Mo Tautuaa contributed 10 points and nine rebounds for San Miguel.

Terrence Romeo chipped in with nine points.

“It came down to the wire again. But we credit our guys. They found a way. They showed some composure in that second half for us.” said Trillo in a post-game interview.

“We’ve been together. We’ve been working closely together. Just proud of the ways these guys battle through it. And it was one of those serieses where it was very close every game,” added Trillo.

“The last play, we were in shock when June Mar made that fadeaway 3, we were shocked but we got it together. Personally, I wanted to get Chris Newsome the last shot. I know he’s been carrying us through the series, not only him of course, but he really stepped up, the big pressure was on him,” said Meralco consultant Nenad Vucinic.

“He didnt have a game up to his standards. Today he got really defended well by some of the guards in San Miguel. But the last job had to go to him,” added Vucinic.

The Bolts led, 78-73, with 29 seconds left,but Fajardo’s jump shot cut the deficit to three.

Simon Enciso stole a bad pass by Cliff Hodge with 24 seconds remaining, but Trollano missed his three-pointer. He got the offensive rebound, but Lassiter also missed his attempt from three-point territory.

Coming out of the timeout, Enciso nearly committed a five-second violation before finding Fajardo, who took a three-pointer to tie the game with three seconds left.

Meralco, however, was not to be denied.

Enter Newsome.

The scores:

Meralco (80) — Newsome 15, Maliksi 14, Quinto 11, Bancheor 10, Almazan 9, Caram 6, Torres 6, Hodge 6, Bates 3, Rios 0.
San Miguel (78) — Fajardo 21, Perez 14, Lassiter 11, Tautuaa 10, Romeo 9, Trollano 7, Ross 1, Enciso 0, Teng 0, Cruz 0, Brondial 0.
Quarterscores: 29-18, 47-40, 63-58, 80-78.

The results:

Game 1: Meralco 93, San Miguel 86
Game 2: San Miguel 95, Meralco 94
Game 3: Meralco 93, San Miguel 89
Game 4: San Miguel 111, Meralco 101
Game 5: Meralco 92, San Miguel 88
Game 6: Meralco 80, San Miguel 78
(Meralco wins series, 4-2)