ANTIPOLO – Meralco dealt Converge its worst loss thus far in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, 90-74, Thursday night at the Ynares Center here.
Aaron Black tied his career-high with 25 points to lead the Bolts to their second win in as many games, creating a three-way logjam at the top spot of the team standings with rivals Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer.
Allein Maliksi finished with 22 points on five three-pointers, while top guard Chris Newsome supplied 19 points in the rousing victory.
Raymond Almazan only scored five points but definitely made his presence felt on the boards, as he accounted for 15 of his side’s 57 rebounds.
“We really focus on defense every day in practice. Sometimes, it doesn’t work, but we really like to play defense. Against this team, I think the key was rebounding,” offered head coach Norman Black as their foes only had 43.
The aforementioned cagers were crucial in the fourth quarter pullaway, with Maliksi opening the period with a triple to spark a 17-4 blitz that turned a slim one-point gap to a wide 78-64 separation with 6:27 left to play.
Meralco’s lead rose to as high as 20, 87-67, following Black’s shot from beyond the arc — he went 4-of-5 in the game — with 4:27 left to play.
Next up for the Bolts is TNT (2-2) on Saturday, June 18, at 7:15 p.m. still at the Ynares Center, where they try to extend their winning run to three.
Taylor Browne led Converge with a career-high 14 points in the defeat, their second in a row since stunning Magnolia last Friday.
Jeo Ambohot was his lone support with 10 points for the FiberXers, who shot just 32-percent from the field in the loss that dropped their card to 1-3.
Converge will look to arrest its skid immediately against Terrafirma on Wednesday, June 22, 3 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Meralco 90 – Black 25, Maliksi 22, Newsome 19, Hodge 6, Hugnatan 6, Almazan 5, Jose 4, Quinto 3, Banchero 0, Caram 0, Pasaol 0, Pascual 0, Baclao 0.
Converge 74 – Browne 14, Ambohot 10, Teng 8, Adamos 7, Digregorio 6, Racal 6, Ahanmisi 5, Arana 4, Lojera 4, Murrell 3, Tolomia 2, Hill 2, Stockton 2, Ilagan 1, Bulanadi 0.
Quarterscores: 20-23, 44-35, 61-60, 90-74.
The second game of each gameday is also live-streamed on SMART Sports.