Bolts recharge, top Game 3


MERALCO halted Magnolia’s streak, 91-86, but not without additional effort in the fourth quarter where the Hotshots again tried to impose their will in their best-of-seven semifinals series in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Despite playing without Raymond Almazan (sprained left ankle in Game Two), Aaron Black (hand injury), Trevis Jackson and Jammer Jamito (health and safety protocols), the Bolts banked on a fiery offensive game to build commanding leads before unleashing their defense late in the game to narrow the series to 1-2.

“I think we displayed a big heart today. We just looked at this game as do-or-die or played it like there was no tomorrow for us,” Meralco Head Coach Norman Black said. “We’re struggling a bit because of the lack of manpower, but it’s a must win for us.”

Chris Newsome piled up 17 points on top of six rebounds and four assists, while stocky playmaker Nards Pinto scattered 16 points to lead the Bolts, who built a 75-54 cushion on Mac Belo’s lay-up at the start of the payoff period.

But the Hotshots trimmed the deficit to 86-89 with only 28 seconds left on Rafi Reavis’s lay-up.

Newsome, however, sank fade away jumper with only six seconds remaining to seal the victory for Meralco.

Belo scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and two assists, while Nonoy Baclao filled in for Almazan and scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Allein Maliksi (9), Bong Quinto (8) and Anjo Caram (8) contributed to Meralco’s offense.

Cliff Hodge also shared seven points and grabbed 12 rebounds plus two steals for the Bolts.

The Bolts established a 24-11 lead late in the first quarter before stretching their advantage to as high as 20 points several times.

Paul Lee posted 18 points while Ian Sangalang had 15 points and seven rebounds and Calvin Abueva finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for Magnolia.

Meralco will try to tie the series in Game Four on Sunday at 4:35 p.m.

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