Bolts score once more to take the series lead

Jun 11, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts, who blew a four-point lead in the last seconds the previous time, won’t back down this time.

At the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Meralco and San Miguel Beer battled it out once again, with the former winning 93-89 thanks to big baskets by Chris Newsome and putting the Bolts back in the lead.

With the game-winning three-pointer made by Newsome from the left side, the Bolts took a 2-1 lead into Wednesday’s Big Dome game. Following a critical miss by SMB’s CJ Perez, the Meralco lead gun himself drained the game-winning charity.

Newsome finished his impressive 26-point performance with a massive five-point scoring spree that included four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, one steal, and two turnovers.

Just as in their 93-86 victory in the series opener, Meralco’s victory was the result of a number of guys pulling together.

With 51.9 seconds remaining, Raymond Almazan called it quits on the game after recording 17 points and 13 rebounds in a strong performance against June Mar Fajardo.

In addition to Bong Quinto (16 points), Cliff Hodge (10 points and 13 rebounds), and Chris Banchero (10 markers, six boards, and six assists), the other Meralco starters also contributed to the team’s ability to resist San Miguel’s significant bench output lead of 47-14.

Similar to Game Two, where San Miguel prevailed 95-94, the outcome of the game hinged on performance in the last moments.And with just 18 seconds remaining, Perez squandered a chance to tie the score from close range, sending the Beermen down with a defeat. After a foul by Perez, Newsome easily made his free throws to seal the victory in the fiercely competitive match in which no side was able to lead by more than eight points.

Quinto led the way with 13 points, Almazan added eight points and six rebounds, and Brandon Bates added four rebounds as the Bolts seized a narrow 48-46 halftime lead.

Although the SMB starters were quickly neutralized, the reserves Moala Tautuaa, Don Trollano, Jeron Teng, and Jericho Cruz were still very much in the battle for the Beermen.

Though they eventually found their footing, Perez and Marcio Lassiter were unable to convert when it mattered most.

More on the Bolts: Hodge is prepared to resume leading the assault for Meralco.

In Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals on Friday night between Meralco and San Miguel, Cliff Hodge displayed his attacking side.

If the veteran forward is given the opportunity to play offensively once again, he won’t think twice about doing so if it means the Bolts will win their first-ever league title.

“It’s just that the opportunities were there and whenever they’re there I’ll take them. It’s what their defense was doing for us and they’re leaving me open, so I was taking advantage of that,” Hodge said.

“As I’ve said I’m going to do whatever I can to try to win this first championship and we still got the chance.”

The 36-year-old Hodge put on a season-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field, adding nine rebounds, but San Miguel’s 95-94 comeback victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum derailed his effort.

He was Meralco’s offensive mainstay, scoring 17 goals in the first half alone.

When the Bolts led, 93-89, thanks to a crucial three-pointer by Chris Banchero, they were literally 25 seconds away from claiming a 2-0 lead in the championship series.

However, the reigning champion fought back and managed to steal the victory thanks to back-to-back game-winning 3-pointers from Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez, tying the series at one game apiece.

Naturally, Hodge was disappointed by the Bolts’ desperate collapse against a squad that “has been through the fire.”

“We have them on the ropes, we’re playing great, we’re playing team basketball. We just got them on that, when you have somebody down, you make sure you finish the job. We’ll learn from this. It was a big loss but I think it will make us more resilient,” Hodge said.

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