Meralco goes back-to-back

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) – October 24, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — Chris Newsome did an encore of his endgame heroics from Tuesday’s outing and the Meralco Bolts surged to their second consecutive win in the PBA bubble in Pampanga.

Hero of their 109-104 overtime verdict over Magnolia, Newsome took charge anew and scored seven of his 18 points in the last 4:27 as the Bolts trounced NLEX, 101-92, to jump to joint fourth with a 3-2 card yesterday.

In that crucial stretch at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena, Newsome knocked down three clutch jumpers and fed Allein Maliksi for a roaring triple that all but sealed it for Meralco, 99-89, with 1:20 to go.

The versatile Fil-Am, who also grabbed six rebounds and posted the same number of assists, deflected the credit and pointed to team play.

“I’m proud of the guys. For us, it’s not about who scores the most or who wins player of the game; it’s about everybody doing their share and doing their part. We’ll get the win as long as everybody contributes and stays positive,” said Newsome.

Four of his teammates finished in double figures. Maliksi chipped in 17 while Baser Amer and Raymond Almazan shot 11 apiece and Cliff Hodge had 10 in the victory posted on the 32nd anniversary of coach Norman Black’s feat as the only import to reach the 10,000-point plateau in the league.

“We want to be one of the teams that really plays with a lot of teamwork and shares the basketball and we did that tonight,” Black said of his team’s well-distributed point production.

Phoenix unleashed a strong finishing kick to steal a 91-84 verdict over fading Magnolia and arrest a two-game slide.

The Fuel Masters hit six three-pointers in a searing 31-13 windup to complete their fightback from 17 points down and improve to 3-2.  With another fourth-quarter collapse after a hot start, the Hotshots skidded to three straight and fell to 1-4.

He lauded the Bolts’ 17 assists and their efforts to limit the Road Warriors to a 40.5 percent field goal clip (32-of-79) and no more than 27 points in quarter scoring.

“I was more impressed with our defense. This is one of the games in the conference where our defense really stood out and the guys followed and executed the (defensive) game plan,” said Black.

Despite the Bolts’ tough defending, Kiefer Ravena finished with 30 for NLEX.

The Road Warriors, though, failed to clinch a followup to their 102-88 win over NorthPort two nights before and fell to 1-4 overall.

The Bolts threatened to rip the game apart repeatedly since the first period, even erecting a 12-point lead one time, but the resilient Road Warriors always found a way to close in.

Meralco went up by nine at 94-85 after Newsome’s five-point binge but no-quit NLEX countered with a Jericho Cruz baseline attack and an Anthony Semerad trey to make it a four-point contest.

But then Newsome came to Meralco’s rescue, burying a timely bucket then assisting Maliksi for the dagger trey.

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