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PBA: Meralco jumps on SMB early, evens series


Meralco rediscovered its touch and blew out San Miguel, 111-97, to get even in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, Wednesday at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts came out firing with a 20-8 start before turning the match into a one-sided affair come the third canto and went on to reduce the series to a best-of-three affair with a chance to take a 3-2 lead in Game Five on Friday.

Aaron Black led the balanced attack with 21 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in the win that saw the MVP ball club shoot an impressive 56-percent from the floor after making just 39-percent of their shots in Game Four.

That is easily the highest field goal percentage they’ve attained in the series, proving head coach Norman Black right that his wards could topple the long-time powerhouse as long as they’re making their shots.

“We shot the ball much better today,” said the champion mentor. “I think Aaron came out and was aggressive right from the start. Then the other guys, like Allein Maliksi, also came out and shot the ball very, very well.”

Allein Maliksi fired 19 points on four three-pointers. Cliff Hodge made 18 points, while Raymond Almazan produced 17 as the veteran big men managed their fouls better than in the previous games in guarding June Mar Fajardo.

“Mahirap talaga bantayan si June Mar. Hindi lang ako, ‘yung coaches namin pine-prepare lahat ng bigs — Kyle, ako, si Noy. It was a team effort talaga, kasi hindi naman mas-stop ng one man si June Mar,” Almazan said.

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Bong Quinto chipped in 11 markers in the win, including the pair of free throws that pushed their lead to a game-high 22, 94-72, early in the fourth.

“In this game, the guys were much, much more confident,” lauded Black as all but three of his players scored at least two in the match.

CJ Perez led San Miguel with 24 points and eight rebounds in the loss that saw the crew trail from start to finish since losing to TNT 115-98 in Game Three of the 2021 Philippine Cup semis, per league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III.

Marcio Lassiter had 23 points on a 4-of-7 clip from the outside, while Fajardo finished with 21 markers and 13 rebounds for the Beermen.

The Scores:

Meralco 111 — Black 21, Maliksi 19, Hodge 18, Almazan 17, Quinto 11, Newsome 8, Baclao 4, Belo 4, Hugnatan 3, Banchero 2, Pascual 2, Jose 2, Pasaol 0, Caram 0, Johnson 0.

San Miguel 97 — Perez 24, Lassiter 23, Fajardo 21, Brondial 9, Manuel 9, Canete 4, Zamar 3, Cruz 2, Tautuaa 1, Pessumal 1, Ross 0, Enciso 0, Herndon 0.

Quarterscores: 36-23, 58-53, 88-71, 111-97.

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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