PBA: Almazan steps up in clutch as Meralco rallies past Magnolia
MANILA, Philippines–Playing catch-up for three quarters, Meralco pulled the rug from under defending champion Magnolia, 98-92, behind the heroics of Raymond Almazan in Saturday’s PBA Governors’ Cup action at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Tentative for the most part of the last conference when he joined the Bolts, Almazan played what coach Norman Black feels like his ward’s finest performance.
Almazan delivered 19 points, four of which coming in the turnaround in the final 2:27 mark of the match.
“(Raymond) couldn’t get his bearings last conference, but I wasn’t really concerned about that. But we have a chance now for him to get comfortable with the team,” Black said of his big man who was hounded with an assortment of injuries during the Commissioner’s Cup.
“The combination of him and [Allen Durham] is a very good one defensively because Raymond can cover a lot of area by blocking shots while AD takes care of the boards,” he added.
Chris Newsome and Durham were at their usual sharp form, tossing 22 and 21 points in the come-from-behind victory that primes Meralco up for a duel with sister team NLEX which it plays on Friday.
Romeo Travis, Magnolia’s returning import, buoyed the Hotshots all night long. He finished with 22 with guards Paul Lee posting 20 and Mark Barroca adding 12.
“It’s a very, very satisfying win because we’re going up against the defending champions and they are a really good defensive team,” Black said of his charges’ effort from 16 down.
Magnolia looks to bounce back against NorthPort—a team that notched a conference-opening victory—also this coming Friday.
Meralco (98) – Newsome 22, Durham 21, Almazan 19, Pinto 9, Faundo 8, Amer 7, Salva 4, Hugnatan 3, Quinto 3 Caram 2.
Magnolia (92) – Travis 22, Lee 20, Barroca 18, Simon 12, Sangalang 11, Pingris 4, Melton 3, Jalalon 2, Reavis 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarterscores: 27-30, 48-57, 73-75, 98-92.
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