PBA 2023 – Rallying Bolts unable to trump Knights

Dec 29, 2023

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MANILA, Philippines – In the EASL Home and Away season, MERALCO lost to Seoul SK Knights on Wednesday night, 81-80, at the Philsports Arena because it was unable to replicate its previous magical performance.

The Bolts came back from a nine-point deficit in the last three minutes, but they were unable to finish the job because they made a mistake that cost them the game in the closing moments

After Chris Banchero fed the ball perfectly beneath to Import Prince Ibeh, who lost control of the ball, Sunhyung Kim stole the ball to keep the Korean team winning on the road.

With the victory, the Knights were able to end their tie with the Bolts and move up to a 2-2 record. Meanwhile, the home team dropped back to the bottom of the Group B standings with a 1-3 record.

After a thrilling 97-88 overtime thriller against the Ryukyu Golden Kings at the Studio City Event Center in Macau, where it overcame a four-point deficit in the final 15 seconds of regulation to win, Meralco arrived at its first home game on a high note.

The Bolts appeared to be bound for yet another comeback game for a spell as they rallied from an 81-72 deficit with 2:40 remaining and threatened at 81-80, scoring eight points in a row behind the shooting tandem of Chris Newsome and Zach Lofton.

With 14 seconds remaining, Seoul import Jameel Warney missed a jumper, and Ibeh grabbed the rebound to give the home team a big lead.

Following a timeout, Meralco initiated a drive-and-draw play, which was abandoned because Ibeh was unable to control the ball in the dying seconds of the play.

Korean Basketball League (KBL) player Warney led the team with an all-around performance of 31 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. An Youngjun finished with 19 points, making 5-of-10 three-pointers, and Juan Gomez de Liano, a Filipino import, only saw action in the first half, scoring four points and dishing out an assist.

Lofton scored 32 points on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc and pulled down seven rebounds to lead Meralco. Ibeh finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Newsome was the only local player to score in double figures with 13 points, five rebounds, and six assists.

The Bolts had one week off before playing at the Philsports Arena on January 3 against the New Taipei Kings, who are still unbeaten, and Jeremy Lin.

Scores at the end of the match:

Seoul SK Knights with 81 points for the win

Individual scores: Warney 31, An 19, Kim 7, Williams 7, Oh 6, De Liano 4, Choi 3, Song 2, B. Choi 2.

Meralco with 80 points

Individual scores: Lofton 32, Newsome 13, Ibeh 13, Hodge 8, Black 6, Banchero 5, Bates 2, Quinto 1, Almazan 0, Rios 0, Mendoza 0, Torres 0.

Scores per quarter:

20-20; 45-33; 64-56; 81-80.

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