Meralco’s day

June 17, 2024 Robert Andaya 167 views

MERALCO is one win away from securing its first-ever PBA championship.

And the Bolts can achieve it with another victory over defending champion San Miguel Beer in Game 6 of their best-of-seven title showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

One last win to finally win it all.

One last win against what basketball fans consider as the greatest PBA team ever.

“Right now finals is nothing. Nobody remembers second place. You’ve got to win one to gain the respect. That’s on our mind, that’s our focus,” said Meralco coach Luigi Trillo on the eve of their all-important Game 6 battle against their embattled rival San Miguel Beer.

Trillo and the Bolts are confident they can do it.

Last Friday, the Bolts outplayed the Beermen, 92-88 in Game 5 before another wildly-cheering weekend crowd.

Veterans Chris Newsome and Allein Maliksi have a lot to do with it.

Newsome and Maliksi combined for 44 points to power the Bolts’ ego-boosting victory over the Beermen.

Newsome finished with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists in 41 minutes of action while Maliksi added 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting, and five rebounds.

Raymond Almazan and Chris Banchero contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively, to help the Bolts move closer to their first franchise milestone since joining the league.

Bong Quinto also added eight points while Brandon Bates and Cliff Hodge chipped in with six points each.

Hodge also had nine rebounds while Bates had seven rebounds.

Even June Mar Fajardo’s game-high 38 points were not enough to lead the Jorge Gallent-mentored Beermen.

The seven-time PBA MVP, Fajardo, had a near-flawless 14-of-17 shooting from the field while adding 18 rebounds and two blocks in 44 minutes of play.

CJ Perez added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Marcio Lassiter, Jericho Cruz and Terrence Romeo had six points each in the Beermen’s losing effort.

Mo Tautuaa and Don Trollano chipped in with five points each.

With 3:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Maliksi completed a lay-up to give the Bolts a 10-point lead with 90-80.

But the Beermen went on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to two, before Newsome made two crucial free throws to give the Bolts a four-point cushion 92-88, with only six seconds left.

“Both teams are always ready. It’s a best-of-seven series, I don’t think anybody’s gonna have their guard down, and both teams are ready,” said coach Trillo in the post-game interview.

“You can see every game has been closed, every game has been tight, that last game though, we didn’t do a good job.Certain things we needed to and today, it’s a little bit of a struggle could’ve gone either way. So, we just have to move forward to the next game,” Trillo added

The scores:

Meralco (92) — Maliksi 22, Newsome 22, Almazan 14, Banchero 12, Quinto 8, Bates 6, Hodge 6, Caram 2, Rios 0, Torres 0, Pascual 0.
San Miguel (88) — Fajardo 38, Perez 17, Lassiter 6, Romeo 6, Cruz 6, Tautuaa 5, Trollano 5, Ross 3, Manuel 2.
Quarterscores: 24-25, 47-46, 69-70, 92-88.


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
(Meralco leads series, 3-2)