Bolts bounce back, nip Gin Kings to equalize series
*Games Sunday \(AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G\)
3:45 p.m. – TNT Tropang Giga vs Phoenix Super LPG (Game Three)
6:30 p.m. – Barangay Ginebra vs Meralco Bolts (Series tied, 1-1)*
SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – The Meralco Bolts restored power after their Game One outage and romped off with a series-tying 95-77 triumph over rival Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Philippine Cup semis Friday at AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G.
The Bolts amped up in the second half to wrest control from the hot-starting Gin Kings and sustained the charge heading home as they drew level in the Final Four matchup that’s now down to a race-to-two affair.
Chris Newsome and Allein Maliksi touched off the turnaround as they presided over a telling 23-11 exchange in the third that gave the Bolts a four-point cushion and more importantly, the momentum going into the final canto.
They didn’t let the opportunity slip away as Reynel Hugnatan, Raymond Almazan, Baser Amer and Newsome conspired in a 15-0 blast to widen the gap and hand Meralco a 85-67 cushion going to the last 5:14.
Coach Norman Black’s wards kept on pounding and even led by 21 at 91-70 as they gave Ginebra a sound beating similar to what they received in the opener two nights before, 96-79.
“We talked about the fact we can’t go down 0-2, we would have no chance of coming back in the series,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, whose crew came out with more energy this time after appearing drained in Game One following their two-game disposal of five-peat champ San Miguel in the quarterfinals.
“We found out exactly in Game One what exactly we’re up against offensively and defensively and we made a few adjustments. The players executed them very, very well; the teamwork was there unlike in Game One,” he added.
While Maliksi carried the offensive load in the first game with 24, Meralco unloaded a balanced attack with Newsome (16), Bong Quinto (14), Maliksi (14), Cliff Hodge (12), Almazan (11), and Amer (10) logging twin-digit scores.
Meralco’s defense stood up as they choked high-scoring Ginebra to 77 markers on a 36 percent clip (27-of-75) and Stanley Pringle to only nine on four-of-16 shooting (25 percent), a far cry from his 19 in Game One.
Japeth Aguilar (17) and LA Tenorio (16) led the Ginebra scorers.
The Gin Kings threatened to rip Meralco to shreds in the early goings, leading by 10 in the second, and by 13 after a minute of action in the third.
And then Newsome fired nine to spark a dominant third period performance by the Bolts, who wrested control with a 23-11 salvo, and put the match beyond reach with a 30-16 closeout.
Meralco Bolts 95 – Newsome 16, Quinto 14, Maliksi 14, Hodge 12, Almazan 11, Amer 10, Hugnatan 9, Pinto 3, Black 2, Caram 2, Jamito 2, Faundo 0, Jose 0, Salva 0.
Barangay Ginebra 77 – J. Aguilar 17, Tenorio 16, Thompson 10, Tolentino 9, Pringle 9, Caperal 6, Salado 4, Mariano 4, Caguioa 2, dela Cruz 0, DeVance 0, Dillinger 0, Balanza 0.
Quarterscores: 23-27, 42-50, 65-61, 95-77.