SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Lady Luck was on the side of Meralco once more as it bucked a late-game meltdown to defeat Rain or Shine, 85-78, Thursday at the SMART 5G-powered AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
The Bolts broke the game wide open in the third canto and appeared to be in cruise control after leading by as much as 23, but had to fend off a gutsy Elasto Painters comeback en route to collecting their second straight win.
Chris Newsome led Meralco with 17 points as they picked up from where they left off yesterday versus Blackwater to improve to 5-3, moving closer to the All-Filipino tilt’s playoffs — something that the franchise hasn’t done since 2015.
“We actually played really well in the second half probably up until the last five, six minutes of the game where things seemed to turn around but we’re 5-3, just happy to get the victory and move on,” said Coach Norman Black.
Chief playmaker Baser Amer finished with 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, as Reynel Hugnatan continued his solid play as he contributed 13 markers and four boards for the Orangemen.
Meralco came out of the halftime break firing, unfurling 13 unanswered points — punctuated by a Bong Quinto lay-up — to widen a slim two-point lead to a huge 61-46 cushion with 7:03 on the clock.
The Bolts would even end the third canto with a huge 23-point advantage, 74-51, after limiting the Elasto Painters to just a measly seven points in the period, shooting just 2-of-8 from the field as a team.
“We really talked about trying to come out strong in the third quarter and some of the past games that’s been one of our weaknesses, coming out of the dugout strong at halftime,” Black said.
“So I was very very happy with our defense, our offense was clicking against their zone defense — they played the zone almost the entire game. In the third quarter we were making our shots, we were executing very, very well.”
Rain or Shine, though, would put up a fight in the final frame. Buoyed by its young guns Vince Tolentino, Adrian Wong, and Norbert Torres, the Elasto Painters would come close to as six twice in the waning moments.
Newsome, though, was there to prevent them from coming any closer, hitting his free throws as the Bolts went on to win and compound on the woes of the Elasto painters, who suffered their second loss in a row.
James Yap finished with a season-high 18 points and seven rebounds as Beau belga was the only other double-digit scorer for Rain or Shine with 11 points in the defeat that dropped them to 4-3.
Both Meralco and RoS will see action on Saturday, Nov. 7. The Bolts will look to get going versus top team TNT at 4:00 p.m. while the Elasto Painters aim to arrest their skid against Magnolia at 6:45 p.m.
Meralco (85) – Newsome 17, Amer 14, Hugnatan 13, Maliksi 9, Hodge 8, Quinto 8, Jamito 6, Black 5, Almazan 4, Pinto 1, Faundo 0, Jackson 0, Jose 0, Salva 0, Caram 0.
Rain or Shine (78) –Yap 18, Torres 11, Belga 11, Nambatac 8, Wong 6, Tolentino 6, Borboran 6, Mocon 5, Onwubere 3, Norwood 2, Ponferada 0, Rivero 0, Rosales 0, Dolliguez 0,Arana 0.
Quarterscores: 27-28, 46-41, 74-51, 85-78.