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PBA: Meralco sends Converge crashing back down, secures QF berth

ANTIPOLO – Meralco sent Converge reeling anew, 105-99, to become the latest team to secure a quarterfinal ticket in the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup, Sunday evening at the Ynares Center here.

Fresh off their breakthrough victory in the East Asia Super League (EASL) just last Wednesday, the Bolts went on a tear in the middle quarters before having to ward off their foes’ late-game rally en route to their sixth win in seven outings.

“Extremely proud of the coaching staff, and the team. At least we’re there already,” said coach Luigi Trillo. “But we have a chance to get to the top two.”

Zach Lofton led Meralco with a game-high 30 points on 37-percent shooting from the field, alongside eight rebounds and a pair of assists.

Chris Banchero supplied 21 points, while Allein Maliksi made 20 as the star guards combined for nine of the team’s 17 three-pointers.

Bong Quinto delivered 13 points on a 50-percent clip, as Chris Newsome came through with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

As happy as he was, Trillo was left puzzled by the way his wards managed the endgame. They actually led by as much as 29 points twice in the third, only to allow the FiberXers to chop it down to single digits.

“The result was a little bit of a meltdown when Converge caught up,” lamented Trillo as his team got outscored in the fourth, 25-38.

Still, it wasn’t enough for Converge to turn its fortunes around, eventually absorbing another loss (1-7) that pushed it on the brink of elimination.

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Justin Arana finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Alec Stockton backed him up with 21 as the locals stepped up after import Jamil Wilson got limited to only 13 points on 4-of-18 shots, 11 rebounds, and six assists.

It sure is a disappointing result for a FiberXers side that’s coming off a 103-94 overtime win over Terrafirma just last Wednesday that finally gave them a win after losing their first six games of the conference.

Both squads will return to action later this week. Meralco takes on Barangay Ginebra in a rivalry affair on December 22, while Converge battles top-seed Magnolia on the 23rd. Both games are at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Meralco 105 – Lofton 30, Banchero 21, Maliksi 20, Quinto 13, Newsome 11, Black 4, Rios 3, Pascual 3, Almazan 0, Torres 0, Bates 0.

Converge 99 – Arana 25, Stockton 21, Wilson 13, Balanza 11, Winston 10, Ambohot 6, Santos 5, Racal 4, Nieto 2, Melecio 2, Delos Santos 0.

Quarterscores: 27-18, 55-37, 80-61, 105-99.

Written By

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

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