Meralco Bolts held off San Miguel Beer, 93-87, on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, to take an early lead in the 46th Season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Aaron Black and Chris Newsome hit key outside shots to ignite and drive the Bolts’ late-game surge, which propelled them over the Beermen and into their second win in as many games.
Catching a powerhouse squad like SMB when they aren’t quite in sync is enough to make Meralco coach Norman Black happy.
“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,” he said.
“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,” added Black.
There’s no denying Meralco produced a game worthy of a legitimate contender when it overcame an early 11-point disadvantage before holding off SMB’s rally from a 57-72 deficit to pull within 77-79 with 5:29 remaining.
The younger Black then hit two straight triples to ignite a 12-6 run that Newsome ended with his own three, putting the Bolts out of reach, 91-83, with only 40 ticks remaining.
Newsome finished with 17 points and six assists, while Black came off the bench to score 14 points. Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan and John Pinto combined for 24 points and six of the Bolts’ total 13 triples, six more than they had in an 85-63 thrashing of NorthPort on opening day last Friday.
SMB’s Terrence Romeo led the team with 18 points, however he had to exit the game with 8:32 remaining after injuring his left ankle during a crossover dribble. Prior to that, the dynamic guard was on fire, hitting six points in a 12-3 burst to bring SMB back to within 71-77 in the final canto.
Arwind Santos became only the seventh player in league history to surpass 4,000 rebounds, and June Mar Fajardo returned to official action after missing the entire previous season due to a shin fracture. Fajardo played 18 minutes in his return game, scoring five points on 2-of-7 shooting and grabbing five rebounds.
Mo Tautuaa led SMB with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while newcomer CJ Perez added 17 points and six rebounds.
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 (SMB) 87 – Romeo 18, Tautuaa 17, Perez 17, Lassiter 11, Santos 8, Fajardo 5, Ross 5, Cabagnot 4, Gotladera 2, Pessumal 0.
Quarters: 18-25, 42-41, 74-59, 93-87.