The Meralco Bolts had to withstand the Alaska Aces’ fightback down the stretch before walking away with the 87-80 win in a tuneup match, Tuesday at Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.
The Bolts built a 13-point lead in the third, which the Aces managed to chip down. Alaska made it just four with 2:16 left to play, before Gani Lawal and Chris Newsome joined hands to prevent a meltdown.
Lawal scored back-to-back from point-blank range seconds after Alaska knocked close. Newsome then coolly sank both of his free throws with 20 seconds left to apply the finishing touches.
Nigerian-American Lawal continues to impress as he set the pace for the Orangemen with 31 points.
“He just fills our needs,” lauded Meralco head coach Norman Black on Lawal. “He could pretty much man the middle. he may not be as tall or as heavy as other imports but he’s very strong inside.”
Import Chris Daniels led Alaska with 31 markers as well, including 16 in the third quarter alone.
Sonny Thoss added 13 in the loss.
The Aces played without sophomore Jeron Teng and veterans Chris Banchero and Vic Manuel. Still, the three were all present and watched their teammates from the sidelines.
Both teams are preparing for the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday, May 19, where they will be among the teams that will raise the curtains of the mid-season conference.
Meralco (87) – Lawal 31, Salva 10, Hugnatan 9, Espinas 7, Canaleta 6, Newsome 5, Jackson 5, Tolomia 4, Guinto 4, Hodge 2, Amer 2, Jamito 2, Caram 0, Pinto 0, Faundo 0.
Alaska (80) – Daniels 31, Thoss 13, Exciminiano 8, Enciso 6, Cruz 6, Casio 6, Racal 5, Galliguez 3, Pascua 2, Baclao 0, Ayaay 0, Babilonia 0.
Quarterscores: 20-28, 44-42, 67-61, 87-80