SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Meralco frustrated Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 95-77, to even up the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, Friday at the SMART 5G-powered AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
The Bolts were completely far from the team that played in the series opener last Wednesday, as they deployed a spread-out attack this time around en route to reducing the series to a best-of-three affair.
“We just talked about the fact that we could not go down 0-2 because we would have no chance of coming back into the series so this game was really, really important for us,” said head coach Norman Black.
Six players finished in double figures in the win, led by Chris Newsome’s 16 points on top of his six assists, four rebounds, and a steal. He was also the one who sparked the comeback from 13 points down in the third.
The 6-foot-2 guard scored his team’s first four points of the period, and that seemingly woke up the Bolts as they all worked together to turn the deficit to a 65-61 advantage heading into the fourth chapter.
It was all Meralco from there. Allein Maliksi nailed buckets to open the canto, before Reynel Hugnatan, Baser Amer, Raymond Almazan, and Newsome connived for a 15-0 run en route to an 85-67 lead with 5:14 left to play.
The Orangemen would lead by as many as 21 points, 91-70, after a Newsome basket with 2:37 left in the game before registering the 18-point victory to avenge the 79-96 beating they received back in Game One.
“We knew that we had to come out with a lot more energy than we did in the first game. We knew it was gonna be a tough series. This isn’t the first time we played Ginebra. It was a great team effort today,” said Newsome.
Maliksi, who was the lone bright spot for Meralco last game with 24 points, fired 14 points spiked by four three-pointers. Bong Quinto made 14 points as well, while Cliff Hodge finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Almazan churned out a double-double, too, with 11 points and the same amount of boards. Amer chimed in 10 markers spiked by two triples and had the highest index rating in the game as he was a plus-31.
“A lot of guys scored well today, particularly Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi, and Bong Quinto so that gave us a big lift. And of course, Raymond Almazan probably played his best game of the conference today,” Black said.
Japeth Aguilar led Ginebra with 17 points in the loss. LA Tenorio supplied 16 points, which he all scored in the first half that saw him go 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to help his side post a 50-42 lead at the half.
Scottie Thompson was the only other double-digit scorer for the Barangay with 10 points, along with nine rebounds and five dimes as Stanley Pringle, who had 19 in Game One, only had nine this time on 4-of-16 shooting.
Game Three is on Sunday, Nov. 22, at 6:30 p.m.
Meralco (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) – Aguilar 17, Tenorio 16, Thompson 10, Tolentino 9, Pringle 9, Caperal 6, Salado 4, Mariano 4 , Caguioa 2, Dela Cruz 0, Dillinger 0, Devance 0, Balanza 0.
Quarterscores: 23-27, 42-50, 65-61, 95-77.