Lawal piles up 28-26 as Bolts spill FMasters
MANILA, Philippines — The Meralco Bolts rode on the monster 28-26 performance of Gani Lawal to score a 101-95 victory over the short-handed Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters last night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lawal dropped 28 points, hauled down 26 rebounds and swatted away three Phoenix shots to lead the Bolts to their second consecutive triumph and 3-2 overall.
The Nigerian-American highlighted his heroics by knocking down nine markers and coming through with a big block in the last five minutes to drive the dagger on the Fuel Masters, who tried to score an emotional victory with forward Calvin Abueva and coach Louie Alas serving suspensions.
Later, Rey Nambatac turned in a career-high 30 points spiked by seven triples as Rain or Shine overpowered Barangay Ginebra, 104-81, for its breakthrough win after a 0-2 start.
Nambatac shot 63 percent from beyond the arc in a hot shooting night and joined hands with Denzel Bowles (25 markers, 17 boards) in leading ROS to victory while sending the Gin Kings down to 2-2.
“It’s nice to get some momentum in this tournament. It’s been a long time since we won two games in a row,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
“Gani Lawal gave us a lot of energy in the second half and really gave us the advantage, particularly on the boards, where he kept scoring off offensive rebounds. And even on the defensive end, he controlled the boards and intimidated shots,” Black added.
Lawal’s brilliance was complemented by Baser Amer, who finished with 20 points plus four dimes and Chris Newsome, who shot 18, including two freebies that gave Meralco a 98-93 cushion going to the last 55.1 seconds.