Meralco stays unbeaten, tops TNT
Meralco outclassed listless TNT, 94-89, to improve to 3-0 in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alex Stepheson led the Bolts with 20 points and 27 rebounds, but got plenty of help from the locals as they repulsed their sister team.
Baser Amer added 17 markers, two boards, and two assists, Jared Dillinger chipped in 17 points on a 3-of-8 shooting from three, Chris Newsome had 10 markers, seven assists, and three rebounds, and Reynel Hugnatan got 10 points to keep Meralco’s immaculate record intact.
The Bolts’ defense was spot-on anew as they once again kept their opponent below 90 points, much to the delight of coach Norman Black.
“That seems to be the key,” he said. “That’s were trying to focus on: our defense. We don’t think we have the team to score 100 or 110 points every night so it’s very important for us to slow down our opponents.”
Meralco replicated last year’s 3-0 start, but Black was more impressed with how his wards survived three games in eight days.
“It’s really good for us to get to a good start. It’s a different feeling right now and it’s mostly because we have a man in the middle. Our locals also think we have a good chance to do well this conference,” he said.
The Bolts used a 28-point third quarter to take control and grab a lead as high as 11, 74-63.
The KaTropa tried to close in and got to within three, 85-82, in the final 3:18, but a jumper from Amer and a Dillinger corner three secured the victory for Meralco, 90-82 with 1:11 remaining.
TNT was also hampered by its 8-of-21 clip from the charity stripe, with a woeful 2-of-8 clip coming in the payoff period.
Lou Amundson had 19 points and 18 rebounds in his TNT debut, while Roger Pogoy added 10 of his 15 markers in the failed fourth quarter fightback, on top of nine boards.
Ryan Reyes also got 11 points as the KaTropa rested Jayson Castro, who is still recovering from his hamstring injury.
MERALCO 94 – Stepheson 20, Amer 17, Dillinger 17, Newsome 10, Hugnatan 10, Faundo 6, Daquioag 5, Hodge 5, Chua 3, Caram 1, Uyloan 0.
TNT 89 – Amundson 19, Pogoy 15, Reyes 11, Fonacier 9, Rosario 6, Tautuaa 6, Rosales 6, Carey 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, De Ocampo 3, Williams 3, Tamsi 2, Golla 0, Hernandez 0.
Quarters: 22-22, 46-50, 74-68, 94-89.
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