Bolts rebound, repulse aces
MANILA, Philippines — Meralco rebounded from its opening booboo in the PBA bubble with a morale-boosting 93-81 triumph over Alaska Milk yesterday in the Philippine Cup at AUF Sports Arena powered by Smart 5G in Angeles City.
Allein Maliksi, Baser Amer and Reynel Hugnatan led a balanced scoring assault as the recharged Bolts bounced back from their embarrassing 98-116 blowout to Phoenix Super LPG last Monday.
Maliksi scattered 17 on a hot 6-of-9 shooting accuracy, delivering consistently to help the Norman Black-mentored Bolts seize control in the Wednesday curtain-raiser and quash every uprising put up by the Aces (0-2).
Amer rifled in 15, including eight straight that put the game beyond the rallying Alaska’s reach in the fourth, while Hugnatan added 13 plus eight rebounds.
“It’s a good feeling to get that first win. It’s a little bit difficult losing in the bubble as you see everybody every minute of the day,” said Black, whose team welcomed back Raymond Almazan (five points, five boards) in his first game coming off the knee injury sustained in the Governors Cup finals.
“The win takes a little bit of pressure off the players and also gives us a lot more confidence going to the next game against Ginebra,” Black added.
Learning their lessons from last time, the Bolts cranked it up defensively against the Aces.
They held the Aces to a 38.32 percent clip while making half of their own shots and posted a 47-38 rebounding edge.
“It’s nice to see the guys playing defense today unlike the last time when we played pretty much no-defense against Phoenix,” said Black.
“I told the players, let’s do a very good job defensively, let’s control the board, limit their offensive rebounds to give ourselves a good chance of winning. And that’s what we did,” he added.
Jeron Teng fired 25 plus seven boards in a losing cause for the Aces.
The Bolts lay the foundation to the wire-to-wire victory with a Maliksi-led 8-0 bomb late in the first period for a 29-20 tear.
They stretched the lead to as high as 17 at 46-29 in the second and finished the first half comfortably ahead by 14.