PBA: Meralco turns back Converge to secure quarterfinals berth | Inquirer Sports

PBA: Meralco turns back Converge to secure quarterfinals berth

/ 06:51 PM December 17, 2023

Meralco Bolts' import Zach Lofton.

Meralco Bolts’ import Zach Lofton. –PBA IMAGES

ANTIPOLO — Meralco raced to a 29-point lead and then hung on late for a 105-99 victory over Converge in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday.

Fresh off a breakthrough win in the East Asia Super League, the Bolts turned to import Zach Lofton, Chris Banchero and Allein Maliksi to hold off the FiberXers and tab a spot in the quarterfinals.

“It’s just a couple of games, but obviously Zach has been a different [kind of] weapon for us. He’s allowed us to go small,” coach Luigi Trillo said on the heels of the triumph at Ynares Center here that had the Bolts rise to 6-1 in the conference.

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“We’ll just have to ride this (momentum),” he went on. ” “At least we’re there already–in the quarters. But now we have a chance to get to the Top 2.”

Lofton scored 30 points to lead all of Meralco. Banchero tossed in 21, while Maliksi 20 to help hand Converge its seventh loss in eight meetings, pushing the FiberXers on the brink of elimination.

Converge drew 25 points and 11 rebounds from Rookie of the Year Justine Arana, and 21 more from Alec Stockton. Both youngsters managed to bring the club to within eight, 103-95, in the final 1:32.

But with Jamil Wilson limited to just 13 points, the FiberXers fell short of completing their comeback.

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Trillo rued the near meltdown, stressing that Meralco cannot afford to make such a lapse in its next game.

“Now we face Ginebra, which has multiple lineup (combinations)–big lineup, a [lineup of] guys who could switch,” he said.

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Converge, meanwhile, battled a Magnolia side whose hot streak finally came to an end after a stunning loss to Rain or Shine in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday.

Meralco is the third team in the tournament to secure a playoff spot, joining Magnolia and Phoenix.

The Scores:

Meralco 105 – Lofton 30, Banchero 21, Maliksi 20, Quinto 13, Newsome 11, Black 4, Rios 3, Pascual 3, Almazan 0, Torres 0, Bates 0.

Converge 99 – Arana 25, Stockton 21, Wilson 13, Balanza 11, Winston 10, Ambohot 6, Santos 5, Racal 4, Nieto 2, Melecio 2, Delos Santos 0.

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Quarters: 27-18, 55-37, 80-61, 105-99

TAGS: PBA Commissioner's Cup

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