Meralco moves to the verge of eliminating rival Ginebra in the semis.
Behind a stifling defense that locked down the Gin Kings, the Bolts took game one of the best-of-three PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals series with an emphatic 93-82 victory, Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Meralco can eliminate Ginebra on Friday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.
“Everybody knows the history of Meralco and Ginebra, especially the guys who have been here for a long time. It’s been in our heads and that’s something that we want to overcome,” said Chris Newsome.
It was a defensive masterpiece for Luigi Trillo’s boys as it limited the high-octane Ginebra offense to just 42-percent shooting from the field. Moreover, the Bolts out-rebounded the Gin Kings, 49-41.
And already leading by 10 at the half, the Bolts pushed the pedal in the third quarter, scoring 27 points that extended their lead to 80-62 entering the final frame. Aaron Black scored 10 of his 25 points during that surge.
A breakaway jam by Bong Quinto gave Meralco its biggest lead of the game, 91-70 with eight minutes left in the game.
“Just a lot of minds coming in, chipping in. We know we had to get our guys together to discuss that, even Coach Norman [Black],” said Trillo. “We know we are going up against a champion team and this is just one game. We need one more game. We know they will come back harder in the second game.”
Newsome also had himself a game, tallying 19 points, nine rebounds, and six assists while Allein Maliksi got 17 points built on three treys.
Cliff Hodge, who had 10 points, five rebounds, and three steals, and Raymond Almazan also, did their share in anchoring Meralco’s defense from start to finish.
Scottie Thompson was a one-man show for Ginebra, producing 29 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists. The Bolts held LA Tenorio scoreless.
Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar, who got 12 and 10 points respectively, shot a combined 10-of-21 from the field and were limited to just nine combined rebounds.
However, already in the lineup, Jeremiah Gray was not fielded in the game.
- Meralco 93 – Black 25, Newsome 19, Maliksi 17, Hodge 10, Quinto 9, Almazan 5, Banchero 4, Pascual 4, Johnson 0, Hugnatan 0, Pasaol 0
- Ginebra 82 – Thompson 29, Standhardinger 12, Chan 11, J.Aguilar 10, Pinto 8, Pringle 6, Mariano 5, Onwubere 1, David 0, Tenorio 0
Quarters: 32-25, 53-43, 80-62, 93-82