Meralco Bolts avoid winless campaign in Doha tilt
MANILA, Philippines–Meralco averted a winless campaign and finished seventh in the Doha International Basketball Championship after exacting revenge on Kuwaiti side Al Arabi, 78-50, on Saturday at Al Gharafa Arena in Qatar.
Allein Maliksi scored 18 points while Alvin Pasaol had 16 as the Bolts got the win after dropping their three group stage assignments and one game in the classification round of the tournament that served as preparation for both the PBA season and the East Asia Super League.
The Bolts were the only non-Middle East team to take part in the tournament won by Beirut Club after defeating Sagesse Sports Club, 90-62, in an all-Lebanese final.
Victories eluded Meralco in Group B, falling to Al Arabi (90-82) in the two teams’ first meeting, Egypt’s Al Zamalek (70-62) and Libya’s Al Ahly (87-81).
Meralco was defeated 75-56 by Morocco’s Fath Union Sport in the first classification game for fifth to eighth places.
Upcoming Commissioner’s Cup import Feron Hunt, who averaged 14.2 points, and Serbian Uros Lukovic reinforced the Bolts throughout the tournament.
But Hunt and Lukovic played a combined 11 minutes against Al Arabi as Meralco practically played with an all-Filipino throughout the lopsided affair.
Chris Banchero added eight points and five assists for Meralco, which played without Chris Newsome due to his stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the Hangzhou Asian Games.