The Meralco Bolts pulled away in the payoff period to clamp down on the NLEX Road Warriors, 91-84, en route to their second win in a row in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Sunday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
“Another good win for us tonight. Our defense really stepped up in the second half,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black on the victory.
The Bolts deployed a balanced attack against NLEX, with Jared Dillinger leading the charge with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Chris Newsome had 15, while Reynel Hugnatan and Baser Amer had 13 and 12 markers, respectively.
“The locals really stepped up tonight and they like our chances this conference. They also played great defense and we hope we can sustain it,” lauded Black of the outputs his locals made.
Import Alex Stepheson had a better showing this Sunday night, scoring 18 points by going 7-of-15 from the floor to go along with a game-high 24 rebounds.
“Alex was moving better tonight compared to our first game. He was able to score inside tonight and crash the boards. He’s big, he’s a good defensive rebounder, and he’s an intimidater,” said Black.
Ahead by a slim two-point margin, 69-67, the Bolts entered the fourth quarter ablaze, scoring 12 straight points sparked by Dillinger and ending their streak with a Justin Chua put-back underneath, to establish a wide 81-67 cushion with 7:49 to go.
“We had that one stretch in the fourth quarter where we went All-Filipino. That’s where we were able to get away,” said Black of that crucial scoring run.
The 14-point Meralco lead proved to be insurmountable for NLEX to climb, as the Road Warriors never had any clear looks at mounting a comeback. Their baskets in the waning seconds only made the result more respectable.
“Overall, it was a good team effort for us tonight.”
Chism led NLEX with 18 markers — despite shooting just 8-of-24 — and 17 rebounds, while Garvo Lanete supplied 14 points. Sean Anthony only had two points, but he was able to haul down 10 boards.
Meralco shot 42 percent from the floor, going 37-of-89 compared to NLEX’s 39 percent. The Bolts also scored better through second chances, 18-7.
Both squads will face their respective next opponents this Friday, March 24, still at the Big Dome. NLEX will play Mahindra at 4:15 PM, while Meralco will go up against TNT at 7:00 PM.
Meralco (91) – Dillinger 20, Stepheson 18, Newsome 15, Hugnatan 13, Amer 12, Chua 6, Caram 3, Hodge 2, Uyloan 2, Daquioag 0, Faundo 0.
NLEX (84) – Chism 18, Lanete 14, Alas 8, Guinto 7, Lastimosa 6, Tiongson 6, Camson 5, Khobuntin 5, Monfort 5, Anthony 2, Baracael 2, Rios 2, Soyud 2, Taulava 2, J. Villanueva 0.
Quarterscores: 26-19, 40-45, 69-67, 91-84.