MANILA, Philippines – Meralco resumed their surge over TNT in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, defeating them 97 to 91 thanks to RAYMOND Almazan and KJ McDaniels.
The Bolts earned their third straight victory thanks to Almazan’s 21 points, 13 of which came in the crucial fourth quarter, along with 11 rebounds and four blocks. McDaniels scored 26 points and 15 points.
The team led by Coach Norman Black improved to 4 to 5 overall, sharing seventh and eighth place with the Tropang Giga (also 4 to 5).
The Meralco coach Norman Black said, “This was a major win for us because getting past TNT is something you don’t do every conference. So it gives us light at the end of the tunnel, that’s for sure.” His team is making a push for the playoffs after a disastrous 1 to 5 start with original import Johnny O’Bryant.
The player continued, “We just have to keep working in practice. We play San Miguel, Magnolia, and NLEX next so we still have a tough road ahead but winning this game really helps us a great deal.”
As Bong Quinto and Chris Banchero each scored 13 points and Mikey Williams of TNT battled back, Aaron Black added 17 points, including a crucial basket and two free throws that helped secure the victory in the fourth.
With a 12 to 5 barrage in the last 4:54, Almazan and Black dealt TNT the decisive KO strikes.
Following strong scores in the first half, the Bolts’ defense limited TNT imports Cam Oliver and Williams to three and five points, respectively, in the final canto.
Williams scored 20 in his first game back following a two-game absence due to a team-imposed suspension that Oliver finished with 25, while Williams had 25 overall.
We’re playing much better defense, which is a crucial development since KJ’s arrival, according to Black. We are once again being our defensive selves, and that is what it will take for us to reach the playoffs.
Scores at the end of the match
Meralco with 97 points for the win
Individual scores: McDaniels 26, Almazan 21, Black 17, Quinto 13, Maliksi 9, Pascual 1, Jose 0, Pasaol 0, Caram 0, Hodge 0
TNT with 91 points
Individual scores: Oliver 25, M. Williams 20, Castro 19, Erram 10, Oftana 6, K. Williams 5, Pogoy 4, Khobuntin 2, Heruela 0, and Ganuelas-Rosser 0
Scores per quarter
21 to 23, 49 to 54, 73 to 74, and 97 to 91