PBA: Meralco is saved by a Banchero floater from the ferocious NLEX surge, while a talent from the Pirates who hasn’t played for Meralco just yet

Dec 4, 2023

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Banchero’s steady hands prevent a collapse with the help of bolts.

In an exciting PBA Commissioner’s Cup game on Sunday at the Philsports Arena, Meralco defeated NLEX 97-94, thwarting a massive late-game comeback. Chris Banchero responded to the call for Meralco.

With 2.8 seconds left, Banchero made a high-arching floater to give the Bolts a 96-94 lead once more.

After a 29-point comeback by NLEX, which was sealed with a pressure-packed three-pointer by Don Trollano that tied the game at 94-all, the Bolts won their fourth game in five after Trollano committed a stepping violation in the team’s last play.

Coach Luigi Trillo of Meralco declared, “A win is a win,” following his team’s narrow victory despite trailing late in the third quarter, 77-48.

The team performed well in the first half, but Banchero—who finished with 15 points, three rebounds, and two assists—believes that everyone on the team will agree that the second half was appalling.

However, the loss of import Suleiman Braimoh, who exited the game at 3:50 due to what seemed to be a torn Achilles, was disheartening.

In fact, Meralco seemed like it was ready to roll when it kept NLEX to only 34 points at the half and then put up that massive 29-point lead.

However, Trollano took off in the third quarter and then teamed up with import Stokley Chaffee in a scorching fourth quarter, helping the Road Warriors overtake the Bolts 94-94 to set up an exciting conclusion.

Breimoh finished with a game-high 38 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Chris Newsome scored 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from outside the arc, while Bong Quinto scored 12.

Trollano scored a game-high 24 points, matching Chaffee’s total. The Road Warriors, who have lost their last three games, are currently 2-4. Chaffee also pulled down eight rebounds.

The Scores

Meralco 97 – Braimoh 38, Banchero 15, Newsome 14, Quinto 12, Almazan 6, Rios 5, Hodge 3, Dario 2, Jackson 2, Pasaol 0, Jose 0, Bates 0, Pascual 0.

NLEX 94 – Trollano 24, Chaffee 24, Anthony 11, Herndon 9, Semerad 8, Rosales 7, Nieto 4, Rodger 3, Miranda 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2.

Quarter scores: 29-17; 54-34; 82-62; 97-94.

Meanwhile, the former Lyceum star’s PBA debut will have to wait, as NLEX is not anticipated to use him in Sunday’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup matchup against Meralco at the Philsports Arena.

The 6-foot-2 NCAA star recently concluded his career with the Pirates in the NCAA Final Four, and on Saturday he inked a two-year contract with the Road Warriors.

The Road Warriors, who just lost team captain Kevin Alas to an ACL injury, will undoubtedly benefit from Valdez’s arrival.

However, while Alas was leaving, big man Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, a sophomore, entered and, following his recovery from a foot injury, made his NLEX debut.

Magnolia, the league’s undefeated leader, destroyed his comeback and the debut of new recruit Stokley Chaffee with a 99-72 thrashing that kept the Road Warriors to their conference-low output, which included just 26 points in the second half.

NLEX (2–3) must now exert greater effort if it hopes to defeat Meralco in its 3 p.m. meet.

The Bolts defeated Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who scored a conference-high 47 points, to win 109-95 against TNT Tropang Giga following their opening defeat to San Miguel.

In a three-way tie for third to fifth place with San Miguel and the defending champion Barangay Ginebra, Meralco’s record improved to 3-1.

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