Chris Newsome’s and Allen Durham’s excellent outings were enough to help the Meralco Bolts overcome the Globalport Batang Pier, 100-93, to gain a share of the top spot, Friday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Bolts have improved to 8-2, tied with the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on top of the standings. The Batang Pier, meanwhile, who played without head coach Franz Pumaren and Terrence Romeo, exited the 2017 Governor’s Cup with a 3-8 card.
“These are some of the toughest games to coach,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, as their opponents had fielded an all-Filipino lineup, since replacement Jamal Thomas exceeded the height requirement set by the league.
“Actually, I would probably prefer that they had an import because at least my players would not be so relaxed and know that they have to play really really well to win. But with that, a win is a win. It wasn’t pretty but we got it.,” Black admitted.
Newsome topped the Bolts’s scoring charts with 28 points, 18 coming from the first half, along with seven rebounds and five assists. Durham, meanwhile, was all over the place with 22 markers, 22 caroms, and 10 dimes.
After Globalport kept it close in the first 24 minutes, the Bolts heated up and broke away wide in the next half. They were able to post a lead as wide as 24, 88-64, after Reynel Hugnatan’s triple with 10:48 in the final period.
The Batang Pier still made one final gasp in the end-game. Behind the exploits of Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle, the team in black sliced the deficit to just seven, 100-93, with less than 12 seconds left to play.
But 12 seconds were not enough to complete the comeback. As soon as Meralco got the ball, they milked the clock until the time expired to secure the much-needed victory.
“We played well in stretches, we played poorly in stretches. That’s something we have to work on before heading into Sunday’s game against San Miguel,” added Black, speaking of their looming match-up with the Beermen this Sunday.
Hugnatan supplied 13 markers for Meralco, while Cliff Hodge scored 10 and grabbed seven boards.
The Batang Pier were paced by Anthony with 23 points, 14 coming in the payoff period, along with 13 rebounds. Jonathan Grey fired 17 markers, while Pringle and Bradwyn Guinto scored 14 and 13, respectively.
The Meralco-San Miguel clash will take place this Sunday, September 24, 4:30 PM at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco 100 – Newsome 28, Durham 22, Hugnatan 13, Hodge 10, Amer 9, De Ocampo 6, Tolomia 4, Lanete 3, Dillinger 3, Sedurifa 2, Caram 0, Nabong 0, Faundo 0.
Globalport 93 – Anthony 23, Grey 16, Pringle 14, Guinto 14, Cardona 11, Baracael 5, Cortez 4, Mamaril 4, Arana 2, Hubalde 0, Celiz 0, Paredes 0.
Quarterscores: 25-20, 51-42, 83-64, 100-93.