Meralco stops streaking Alaska, gains share of 2nd spot
Meralco continued its upward trajectory and shot down Alaska, 89-74, to force a tie in second place in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts won their fourth straight game and in the process, stopped the Aces’ seven-game winning run as both teams got to identical 7-2 records.
Brushing off the tight 41-40 first half, the Bolts went into the offensive and outscored the Aces, 32-17, in the third quarter to build a 73-57 buffer heading into the fourth.
Alaska tried to counter with an 8-0 run to start the fourth to pull within eight, 73-65, but the Bolts were quick to retaliate with an 11-0 sprint capped off by a five-point swing by Jared Dillinger to put Meralco up 84-65 with 6:43 remaining in the game.
Bolts head coach Norman Black knew they had to limit Alaska’s frantic offense, a system that produces 109.6 points a game, if they ever wanted to take a shot at one of the top two spots.
“We went into this game knowing it’s going to be tough, I told the players before the game that something had to give,” said Black. “Alaska went to the game averaging more than 108 points a game and we only give up 87.”
“Our defense was exceptional tonight, in addition we had really good balanced scoring on the offensive end and a lot of guys contributed offensively.”
Chris Newsome had a team-high 18 points with eight assists for Meralco while Baser Amer and Dillinger had 17 points apiece.
Arinze Onuaku did the dirty work for the Bolts finishing with 14 points and 23 rebounds while Ranidel de Ocampo and Niño Canaleta had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Tony Campbell had 25 points and 14 boards to lead Alaska while Vic Manuel had 22 points, his eighth straight 20-point game, and eight rebounds.