With the team’s locals shooting cold, the Meralco Bolts lost their second straight game in the 2018 FIBA Asia Champions Cup as they succumbed to reigning Japan B.League titlists Alvark Tokyo, 73-84, Friday afternoon at the Stadium29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
The Bolts’ chances of entering the semifinals are now bleaker, as they sport a 0-2 card.
Reigning, two-time PBA Governors’ Cup Best Import Allen Durham led Meralco with 31 points and 12 rebounds. Replacement import Diamond Stone punched in 28 points on 10-of-22 shooting alongside eight boards.
Nobody outside of the two foreign reinforcements scored in double digits.
Similar to their 92-100 loss to Mono Vampire BC of Thailand barely 24 hours ago, the Bolts lost steam in the most crucial stretch of the game – the fourth quarter – and the opposition took advantage of such.
The Philippine contingent was able to tie the game up at 60-all early in the final frame, but Alvark Tokyo scored six straight points – punctuated by Milko Bjelica’s freebies – to take a 66-60 advantage with 6:34 on the clock.
Meralco still came within striking distance thanks to Stone’s elbow jumper off the dribble, but the Japanese ball club responded with a 9-2 scoring blitz for a 75-66 edge with 3:11 left, which practically ended the game.
Alvark Tokyo’s freebies with 23 seconds left to play lifted them to their biggest lead, and that settled the final score.
Import Alex Kirk led Alvark Tokyo with 23 points on an excellent 8-of-10 shooting and 11 rebounds. Daiki Tanaka was all over the place with 17 points, seven assists, and five rebounds, while Genki Kojim chimed in 12 markers.
The Bolts will look to post a win the group stage tomorrow, Saturday, September 29, but it will be easier said than done as they will face reigning Champions Cup kings Al-Riyadi of Lebanon at 8:30 PM.
Meralco 73 – Durham 31, Stone 28, Hugnatan 6, Amer 5, Lanete 3, Canaleta 0, Jamito 0, Ballesteros 0, Caram 0, Tolomia 0.
Alvark 84 – Kirk 23, Tanaka 17, Kojima 12, Ando 9, Bjelica 8, Takeuchi 8, Baba 6, Kikuchi 1, Saito 0, Shonaka 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 35-37, 56-60, 73-84.