PBA: Meralco Bolts defeat title favorites 2-1; After assisting with JMF’s control, Almazan adds a double-double just to be safe

Jun 11, 2024

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Meralco defeated San Miguel 93-89 on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to take a 2-1 lead in the PBA 48th Season Philippine Cup Finals. Chris Newsome made the game-winning three with 34.1 seconds remaining.

The Bolts were able to regain control of the best-of-seven series after blowing a late four-point lead in Game Two last Friday. The Meralco guard finished with 26 points, including two free throws with 11.3 seconds remaining.

A mistake made by Newsome on the previous possession gave San Miguel the advantage again in the closing seconds of another low-scoring, grind out game.

Rather than seizing the ball for a backcourt infraction, Newsome let CJ Perez hold onto it and seize the initiative. June Mar Fajardo was fouled as a result, and he made two clutch free throws to give SMB an 89-88 lead.

However, Meralco again looked to Newsome, and the standout guard struck again, this time from the left corner, where Marcio Lassiter had converted the game-winning three-pointer in Game Two. This put the Bolts ahead once more, but for good this time.

For the Bolts, who will try to take a 3-1 lead into Game Four on Wednesday, also at the Big Dome, Bong Quinto contributed 16 points and six rebounds, and Raymond Almazan added 17 points and 13 rebounds.

“This game may have been a win but clearly, we need to improve some things,” Coach Luigi Trillo said. 

San Miguel’s Mo Tautuaa led the team with 19 points and 6 rebounds. With his team behind 88-87, Perez had 18 points but missed two free throws. Perez also missed a layup attempt that would have knotted the score after the Newsome trey.

In the third quarter, San Miguel had already taken the largest lead of the game, 66-59, but Newsome nearly single-handedly forced Meralco back into the contest. Even at the end of the quarter, the Bolts were up, 71-70.

The Scores

Meralco 93 – Newsome 26, Almazan 17, Quinto 16, Banchero 10, Hodge 10, Maliksi 8, Torres 2, Pascual 2, Bates 2, Caram 0, Rios 0.

San Miguel 89 – Tautuaa 19, Perez 18, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Trollano 11, Teng 10, Cruz 7, Enciso 0, Ross 0, Brondial 0.

Quarter scores: 28-24; 48-46; 71-70; 93-89.

Taking on June Mar Fajardo, the seven-time PBA MVP, is never, ever easy.

It was not easy, said the veteran big man. 

After going toe-to-toe with the 6-foot-10 Fajardo in Game 3, the 6-foot-8 Almazan had some success. 

Before fouling out in the last 51 seconds, Almazan ended with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Fajardo, who was also in foul trouble, managed to pull down 15 rebounds while only scoring 12 points on 2-of-5 shooting.

However, Almazan claimed that the Bolts’ attempt to contain and stop the San Miguel main man was a collective effort.

The big man from Letran, who was held scoreless in the 95-94 Game 2 defeat, acknowledged that it was challenging to play aggressively while also guarding Fajardo.

Despite the fact that the Bolts have reclaimed the series lead, Almazan stated Meralco has no cause for celebration just yet.

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