After a week of off-court drama, the Meralco Bolts are relieved to have finally gotten back to business.
A re-energized Meralco team blasted the Blackwater Elite in a wire-to-wire victory, 106-83, to breakout of their two-game funk and, more importantly, regain the top spot in the 2016 PBA Commissioners Cup standings Friday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Bolts were able to gain an early 8-2 start in the game through Ken Bono and reinforcement Arinze Onuaku. The Elite were able to tie the game at 17-all behind Art dela Cruz. However, Meralco went on a 13-4 surge via Baser Amer and Chris Newsome to gain a 30-21 lead to end the quarter.
With the momentum on their side, the Bolts, through Anjo Caram’s six second quarter points were able to extend the lead in the second frame. Moreover, the Elite could not just find the basket in a 14-point second quarter outing that saw the Bolts lead balloon to 17 come halftime.
Dela Cruz tried to rally his team to start the third frame, but the Meralco front line of Cliff Hodge and Onuaku kept them at bay. A triple by Amer extended the lead to 21, 76-55, at the midway point of the third. Four straight points by Lastimosa and a split by Ryan Buenafe to close out the quarter gave Meralco an imposing 81-62 lead to enter the final frame.
It was all Meralco in the fourth quarter, as Onuaku powered his way against the porous inside defense of Blackwater. The Meralco import displayed several dunks in the quarter that helped extend the lead to a game-high 23 points, 103-80, before ending with a score of 106-83.
“It was a good overall team effort today,” Meralco head coach Norman Black said after the game. “Defensively we were very solid mainly because we were able to match-up with their import.”
Blackwater import MJ Rhett had a forgettable outing, going 0/7 from the field, with eight of his points coming from the charity stripe. “The last games, we had to double team on imports. Arinze played him one on one which allowed us to play better defense,” Black added.
As a team, the Elite only shot 42% from the field and were just 3/13 from downtown.
The Bolts were led by Onuaku’s double-double of 27 points and 17 boards. He was 10/15 from the field and went 7/11 from the foul stripe. Baser Amer added 15 points with 12 of his point coming from three-point country.
The Meralco Bolts (6-2) will have a long break before facing the Mahindra Enforcers on Sunday, April 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. On the other hand, the Blackwater Elite (3-5) face the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters on Wednesday, March 30 in the same venue.
Meralco (106) – Onuaku 27, Amer 15, Buenafe R 11, Alapag 8, Hodge 7, Buenafe RJ 6, Caram 6, Hugatan 6, Newsome 6, Bono 4, Dillinger 4, Faundo 4, Ferriols 2, Guevarra 0.
Blackwater (83) – Lastimosa 16, Cortez 15, Dela Cruz 10, Rett 8, Reyes 7, Vosotros 7, Erram 6, Sena 4, Cervantes 3, Bulawan 2, Tiongson 2, Gamalinda 2, Agovida 1, Ballesteros 0, Golla 0.
Quarterscores: 30-21, 52-35, 81-62, 106-83.