Amer, Newsome lift Bolts past Floodbuster, 94 to 86
MERALCO built a sizeable lead at the half and finished burly in the crunch to notch a hard-fought 94-86 victory over Mahindra in the opening game of the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was total team effort for Meralco, led by Baser Amer, who finished with a team-high 19 points and three rebounds, while Chris Newsome had a complete game, scoring 17 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists.
New import Alex Stepheson gave the Bolts the inside presence they needed, tallying a double-double of 11 points and a game-high 21 rebounds for further boost to the Bolts.
Needing to flex their muscles in the waning minutes of the contest, the Bolts were able to do so, scoring timely baskets in the crunch to regain control before eventually listing their first win.
“We really worked hard to improve our game,” said Meralco coach Norman Black before describing his top point guard’s improvement. “Amer has really matured a lot and seems to have grasp of what it’s like in the PBA, specifically on the things he can and cannot do.”
Following a 28-all deadlock midway the second quarter, Meralco solidly ended the first half to gain a significant upperhand by halftime.
Behind Amer’s hot hand, the Bolts finished the opening half with a 16-5 run to grab a comfortable 44-33 spread at the turn.
Amer dropped 10 in the second period, most of which came from that key blitz.
However, the Floodbuster showed some resiliency in the second half, slowly coming back and inching to within just a point, 67-68, with just a little over nine minutes left in the game after two free throws from Jason Deutschman at the 9:11 mark, making it anyone’s game at this point.
Meralco was forced to respond back and it did.
It was able to keep its composure and finish strong down the stretch to prevent itself from giving the game away to Mahindra.
Floodbuster resident import James White impressed as expected, dropping a game-high 33 points and 16 rebounds in a losing cause.