MERALCO made it two wins in a row in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, beating San Miguel Beer, 93-87, and spoiling the much-awaited return of six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Buoyed by their smashing 85-63 win over NorthPort Batang Pier last Friday, the Bolts held off the Beermen in a tight and exciting battle to secure their second win in as many games.
Chris Newsome provided the firepower for Meralco as he scored 17 points, including a clutch three-point shot that finally put the game away.
Later, NLEX shocked defending chsmpion Barangay Ginebra, 94-75.
Kevin Alas and Kiefer Ravena combined for 39 points as the Road Warriors rebounded from 82-83 setback to Rain or Shine last Friday.
Alas finished with 30 piints and Ravena added 29 for NLEX, which led bt ss mant ss 20 points.
Japeth Aguilar topscored for Ginebra with 18 points, while Scottie Thonpson had 2 points and 12 rebounds.
Christian Standhardinger contributed eight points and 10 rebounds in his first game since the blockbuster trade with NorthPort.
Newsome’s back-breaking triple from the corner gave the Bolts a commanding 91-83 lead with 40 seconds left.
Newsome, who also finished with six assists, four rebounds, and two steals, got ample support from his teammates.
Aaron Black came off the bench to score 14 points, Reynel Hugnatan contributed 13 points and John Pinto had 11 points.
“Well, you’re always happy to get wins at this point in the season. You do not want to get left behind because it is going to be a struggle trying to catch up later,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
“So right now, we’re very, very happy with the fact that we’re starting off 2-0,” added Black.
Black was also pleased to play San Miguel early in the conference.
“As a coach, we’re happy that we played them early because once they get in shape and start rolling it’s gonna be very difficult to stop them,“said Black.
“So maybe it is to our advantage to face them this early before they can actually get into great shape and get their momentum going.”
Fajardo, who played for the first time since the 2019 Governors’ Cup when he sustained a shin injury, had a quiet comeback with only five points on 2-of-7 shooting, and five rebounds in only 18 minutes of action.
Terrence Romeo led San Miguel with 18 points in his first game back since dislocating his shoulder in the Clark bubble last year.
Romeo,however, twisted his ankle and looked to have hyperextended his knee in the fourth quarter. He was unable to walk on his own when he entered the dugout for treatment.
CJ Perez finished with 17 points in his San Miguel debut, while Moa Tautuaa added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Actually, San Miguel took as many as 11-point lead in the first quarter following a three-pointer by Marcio Lassiter.
But Meralco came back strong in the seocnd period and even took a slim 42-41 ladvantage at halftime.
It was all Meralco in the third quarter, outscoring San Miguel 32-18, to take a 74-69 lead going into the payoff period.
Meralco (93) –Newsome 17, Black 14, Hugnatan 13, Pinto 11, Quinto 9, Pasaol 7, Belo 7, Maliksi 7, Almazan 4, Hodge 4, Jackson 0.
San Miguel Beer (87) — Romeo 18, Tautuaa 17, Perez 17, Lassiter 11, Santos 8, Fajardo 5, Ross 5, Cabagnot 4, Gotladera 2, Pessumal 0.
Quarterscores: 18-25, 42-41, 74-59, 93-87.
NLEX (94) — Alas 20, Ravena 19, Semerad 11, Trollano 11, Quinahan 10, Cruz 9, Soyud 7, Miranda 5, Oftana 2, Porter 0, McAloney 0.
Ginebra (75) — J. Aguilar 15, Tenorio 11, Thompson 12, Pringle 8, Standhardinger 8, Caperal 8, Chan 2, Ayaay 2, Chan 4, Devance 3, Tolentino 2, Enriquez 2, Dillinger 0.
Quarterscores: 26-15; 41-35; 72-55;94-75.
12 p.m. — Terrafirma vs.Alaska
3 p.m. — Phoenix vs. NorthPort
6 p.m. — Talk N Text vs. Magnolia