Meralco survived NorthPort, 107-102, to post back-to-back wins in the PBA Governors’ Cup, Thursday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Bolts gained a share of leadership with Converge in the standings (2-0), but not before withstanding a major scare by the Batang Pier that saw the latter take a 97-96 lead after being down by a decade with under six minutes remaining.
Bong Quinto, KJ McDaniels, and ultimately Chris Newsome saved the crew from the meltdown, in the process keeping the Batang Pier winless (0-2).
“They always play us tough,” said head coach Norman Black. “I have no reason why, but they’re one of the teams we have a tough time with.
I know they haven’t won a championship or anything like that, but when we play them, they play well. They beat us the last time we played,” he added, referring to their 101-95 meltdown in the last Commissioner’s Cup.
Their previous encounter in the recently-concluded tourney saw Meralco blow a 20-point lead, and a collapse almost took place this time around when they trailed by a point with 2:51 left after NorthPort’s 13-2 run.
Quinto, however, had too much pride to see it happen again. He converted a big three-point play to give the lead back to their side, 99-97, 2:27 to go.
Momentum shifted on their side since then. After Marcus Weathers cut the deficit to a point, Newsome took over and scored five straight to stretch the Bolts’ lead to 105-99 with only 21 seconds left to play.
“We had a stretch tonight where we did not play very good team basketball in the second half. I thought we played a lot of individual basketball and it gave them an opportunity to get back in the game,” Black said.
“Then once we started moving the ball again, we pulled away a little bit. So we just have to be more consistent with the way we play. And once we find a correct way to play, we need to stick with it and not go back to bad habits.”
McDaniels bannered Meralco with 32 points and 22 rebounds, the second time in a row that he’s registered a 20-20 performance.
Newsome had 16 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a block in his second game back. Quinto supplied 15 points off the bench.
Cliff Hodge, who suffered a busted lip, also made 15 points alongside nine rebounds. Allein Maliksi added 14 markers, spiked by three triples.
The Bolts will look to make three in a row when they go up against the 0-1 Terrafirma on Saturday, 4:30 p.m., at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Weathers, meanwhile, finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds to lead NorthPort, who fell to their second loss in as many games.
Roi Sumang had 23 points as he led the fourth-quarter rally. Arvin Tolentino had 17 points while Jeff Chan added 10 for a side that continues to miss Robert Bolick as his contract talks with the management are still going on.
The Batang Pier are hoping to give interim head coach Bonnie Tan his first win against Jonathon Simmons and NLEX also on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.
Meralco 107 – McDaniels 32, Newsome 16, Quinto 15, Hodge 15, Maliksi 14, Almazan 8, Jose 4, Black 3, Banchero 0, Johnson 0, Pasaol 0, Rios 0, Pascual 0.
NorthPort 102 – Weathers 29, Sumang 23, Tolentino 17, Chan 10, Munzon 6, Calma 5, Taha 4, Zamar 3, Balagasay 3, Ayaay 2, Salado 0, Caperal 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 26-22, 49-43, 77-67, 107-102
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.