PBA Finals: With tiebreaker looming, Meralco tries to dig out more points | Inquirer Sports

PBA Finals: With tiebreaker looming, Meralco tries to dig out more points

05:20 AM June 14, 2024

Meralco Bolts' Chris Newsome during Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel Beermen.

Meralco Bolts’ Chris Newsome during Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel Beermen. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Producing the best scoring game of his PBA career with 40 points provided little silver lining for Meralco’s Chris Newsome after San Miguel Beer evened things up at 2-2 in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

“It’s great that I scored 40, but the win is definitely more important,” Newsome said after the Game 4 defeat on Wednesday night.

Newsome and the Bolts have another crack at getting a third win, and closer to their first-ever PBA title, in Friday’s pivotal fifth game of the series at Smart Araneta Coliseum. But not only will the Bolts face the pressure of a tied series, they will enter the 7:30 p.m. contest in urgent need of a plan to figure out how to counter the adjustments San Miguel made in getting a 111-101 win two nights earlier.


The scoreline already offers a clue to how the Beermen succeeded in solving the Bolts defensive schemes. For the first time in the series, a team won by scoring at least 100 points.

A grindout, defensive affair has often favored the Bolts throughout their playoff run, and that was the reason Meralco won two of the first three games of the Finals.

But the Beermen finally showed their offensive juggernaut that they have been known for throughout the two-conference season.

June Mar Fajardo’s 28 points epitomized why there are now cracks in the vaunted Meralco defense that centered on making life miserable for the newly crowned Best Player of the Conference, while CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter continued their consistent form in the series.


Balanced offense is key

And then the minutes provided by Vic Manuel and Terrence Romeo, who both played for the first time in the Finals, also proved vital.

“[San Miguel scoring 111 points] is definitely more than what we’re used to giving up,” Newsome said. “We have to go back and play Meralco basketball which is defensive-minded and I think we lost a bit of that [in Game 4].”Balanced offense will also be key for the Bolts as Newsome’s scoring output overshadowed a lack of support from some of the team’s key sources for baskets.


Allein Maliksi and Bong Quinto could only combine for 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting in Game 4. Both had scoring averages of at least 10 in the first three games.

Beermen coach Jorge Gallent wouldn’t mind making that a trend.

“As long as the rest don’t score, we’re fine,” said Gallent, who will also be wary of other Meralco players picking up the slack like Cliff Hodge.

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Aside from being a pest on defense, Hodge has put up 14.8 points a game in the Finals, third on the team behind Newsome and guard Chris Banchero (16.3).

TAGS: Meralco Bolts, PBA Finals, San Miguel Beer

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