Under new coach, Meralco off to hot start in PBA on Tour
Meralco got a further feel of how things will be under new coach Luigi Trillo in defeating NorthPort, 97-89 to begin its stint in the PBA On Tour on Wednesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Five players scored in double figures for the Bolts, who are using the two-month exhibition series to get familiarized with Trillo’s system after management made a coaching shake-up several weeks ago.
Significant minutes were given to the usual reserves as Meralco came in without main backcourt players Chris Newsome, Aaron Black and Chris Banchero for various reasons.
Allein Maliksi topscored for the Bolts with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting while Bong Quinto added 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Cliff Hodge put up 11 points and 10 rebounds, Anjo Caram registered 11 points, six rebounds and four assists while big man Norbert Torres had 10 points and eight rebounds after being acquired from Rain or Shine in a trade that sent Mac Belo last week.
Jeff Chan scored 20 points for NorthPort, which is in the process of finding a suitable replacement for ace scorer Robert Bolick following his decision to sign in Japan’s B.League.
NorthPort also fielded former Letran star Fran Yu, among the few non-PBA players allowed to suit up for the series.
Yu scored five points in almost 20 minutes for the Batang Pier.
Maliksi and Quinto combined for 16 in the fourth as Meralco pulled away after NorthPort rallied to tie the count at 64-all after three periods.
MERALCO 97 — Maliksi 21, Quinto 14, Hodge 11, Caram 11, Torres 10, Pascual 9, Pasaol 8, Jose 7, Almazan 6, Manday 0, Rios 0.
NORTHPORT 89 — Chan 20, Calma 15, Zamar 12, Santos 9, Salado 8, Yu 5, Munzon 5, Taha 2, Olivario 2, Gabriel 0, Caperal 0, Comboy 0, Bulawan 0.
Quarters: 26-12, 51-40, 64-64, 97-89.