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Meralco escape Star late to finally snatch win



Winless no more.

With the threat of a 0-6 start to the season, the Meralco Bolts snuck past the Star Hotshots to finally notch their first win of the new PBA Season, 87-83, held at the Cuneta Astrodome in the second game of Saturday’s double-header.

The early stages featured three lead changes, but the first quarter was highlighted by James Yap’s sizzling 17-point start. Star ended the period with a 24-21 lead through the shooting of the crowd-favorite, while balanced scoring by the Bolts enabled them to keep within striking distance. By the 8:19 mark of the second frame, Gary David had tied the match at 29, as Star’s second unit had early turnovers in the first part of the quarter.

Former Atenean Chris Newsome also had a good stretch during the second quarter as he and David combined to give the Bolts a 37-32 in the middle of the period. In the last three minutes of the first half, four free throws and another field goal by Yap gave their team a solitary point at the break.

Barroca and Pingris combined for the first blows of the third quarter, as Star extended their lead to 58-50 with a little over eight minutes to go. The Bolts responded with a 9-0 spurt to retake the advantage as turnovers started to pile up for the Hotshots. The closely-contested third quarter ended with a deadlock, as the two squads went back-and-forth with no momentum favoring either teams.

For the first part of the final frame, Yap’s free throws and Ian Sangalang’s basket gave Star a minimal lead for a couple of times. However, a 7-0 run in the next three minutes was put up by the Bolts as David started to put up his 4th quarter magic. After a couple of misses from downtown, Star would find themselves trailing by eight with 1:38 left in the match. Star put up another rally in the tail-end of the game to put four more points on the board and make it an 87-83 affair with 50 ticks left. Fortunately for the winners, Marc Pingris missed two crucial free throws while a defensive stop sealed the deal for Meralco.

The Bolts had more points in the paint, 44-32, despite being out-rebounded, 38-50. They shot 48% compared to the Hotshots’ 39% clip. They also scored more from turnovers, 16-0, and had seven more assists, 18-11.

In the shootout between the two veterans, Gary David and James Yap both scored 26 points to lead their respective teams. Despite missing eight attempts from downtown, David shot 11/16 from two-point distance while also grabbing four rebounds. On the other end, Yap shot ⅞ from the foul stripe and also draining three buckets from three-point territory. Al-Hussaini and Hugnatan combined for 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Bolts.

Meralco (1-5) look to get it going against the NLEX Road Warriors (1-4) on Tuesday, 4:15pm at the Big Dome. Meanwhile, Star’s next game will be up against the Alaska Aces on the same game day at 7:00pm.

The Scores:
Meralco (87) – David 26, Al-Hussaini 12, Hugnatan 10, Nabong 9, Newsome 8, Hodge 6, Dilinger 6, Faundo 5, Atkins 5, Amer 0.
Star (83) – Yap 26, Pingris 13, Sangalang 9, Taha 9, Mallari 8, Torres 8, Barroca 3, Maliksi 3, Melton 2, Pascual 2, Pascual 0, Torres 0, Alvarez 0.
Quarterscores: 21-24, 43-44, 69-69, 87-83.