BOLTS OVERPOWER GIN KINGS
MERALCO erupted big in the second half to outlast Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 95-77, on Friday and level their best- of-five semifinals series in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga on Friday.
Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi and Baser Amer delivered the goods in the last two quarters to help the Bolts of veteran Head Coach Norman Black buck a lethargic first half and tie the best- of-five series at 1-1.
“We just talked about the fact that we could not go down 0-2 because we’ll be having no chance of coming back in this series. So this game is really, really important for us,” Black said.
“We found out in Game One exactly what we’re up against defensively and offensively and we made a few adjustments to try to be able to beat this team tonight,” added Black of their Game One loss, 96-79, last Wednesday.
Trailing 42-55 early in the third quarter, the Bolts exploded with a calculated 23-11 run to seize the lead entering the final period, 65-61. They uncorked a 30-16 fourth quarter kick to wrap up the rout.
Newsome, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half on top of six assists, gave the Bolts their biggest lead, 91- 70, with 2: 37 left in the game.
“It’s a great team effort today. I think a lot of guys came out and gave a lot of energy which is important for us, and of course we want to focus on our defense and that showed today,” Newsome said.
Kier John Quinto added 14 points, 10 he made in the second quarter, while Maliksi poured in 11 of his 14 points in the last two quarters for the Bolts, who also drew double- double performances from big men Cliff Hodge and 6-foot-7 Raymond Almazan.
Hodge had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Almazan made 11 points and as many rebounds. Amer made eight of his 10 points in the last quarter.
Despite coming off a tedious quarterfinals where they dethroned San Miguel Beer, Meralco played well to forge the deadlock.
“There’s no question about that, but everybody is tired at this point,” Black said. “The