The Meralco Bolts banked on a big run at the start of the fourth period to take down the NLEX Road Warriors, 91-84, and notch their second win in the 2017 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ahead by just a basket, 69-67, at the end of the third quarter, the Bolts, behind Justin Chua and Jared Dillinger, scored 12 unanswered points to open the payoff period and grab a 14-point lead with 7:50 to play. A triple by Chris Newsome extended the lead to 88-71 with 5:29 to go, and the Road Warriors never seriously threatened after that.
Bolts coach Norman Black credited his team’s good defense, which held NLEX to just 38% field goal shooting.
“This is the second straight game we held a team below 87 points,” Black said. The Bolts held Mahindra to just 86 in their opening day win Friday. “It was another good game for us. But in the first half we were a little bit lax.”
Dillinger paced the Bolts with 20 points, while Alex Stepheson had a double-double of 18 points and 24 rebounds.
“Alex was moving a little bit better tonight,” Black noted. “He controlled the defensive rebounds. The locals stepped up. They seem excited about our chances this conference.”
Baser Amer, Chris Newsome and Reynel Hugnatan all chipped in at least 12 points each in a balanced Bolts attack. The Road Warriors were led by Wayne Chism’s 18 points and 17 boards, but Garvo Lanete was the only other Road Warrior in double digits with 14.
Meralco joined Rain or Shine, which fashioned out a 99-95 overtime win over Mahindra in the first game, on top of the leaderboard with identical 2-0 records. NLEX, which led 45-40 at the half, fell to 0-2.
MERALCO 91 – Dillinger 20, Stepheson 18, Newsome 15, Hugnatan 13, Amer 12, Chua 6, Caram 3, Uyloan 2, Hodge 2, Faundo 0, Daquioag 0.
NLEX 84 – Chism 18, Lanete 14, Alas 8, Guinto 7, Lastimosa 6, Tiongson 6, Khobuntin 5, Monfort 5, Camson 5, Taulava 2, Rios 2, Anthony 2, Soyud 2, Baracael 2, J. Villanueva 0.
Quarterscores: 26-19, 40-45, 69-67, 91-84.
– The Road Warriors have now lost six straight dating back to the Philippine Cup elims. Their last victory came on January 7 against TNT.
– March 19 is the birthday of both Yeng Guiao and Caloy Garcia.
– Alex Stepheson had to be restrained by his teammates from going after Eric Camson late in the game after Camson hit the Meralco import on the forehead while both were on the floor. Camson was slapped with a flagrant foul penalty 1 and sat out the rest of the game.
Meralco – March 24 vs. TNT at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum
NLEX – March 24 vs. Mahindra at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum