League-leader Meralco remained unscathed after it out-steadied Phoenix down the stretch to carve a 90-87 squeaker in the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Arinze Onuaku scored a game-high 17 points and teamed up with Chris Newsome, who scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, to backstop the Bolts’ attack and help their team overcome a lethargic first half.
Jared Dillinger sank a cold-blooded go-ahead triple with 45.5 seconds remaining to put the Bolts ahead, 89-86, for good.
Following scrappy exchanges in the next possessions, Phoenix still had a chance to tie things up as the door remained open for it with ball in hands and the score at 90-87 for Meralco.
But Josh Urbiztondo’s desperation trey at the horn went astray after Onuaku swatted it away.
The surprising Bolts improved to 4-0 in solo first place, while the Fuel Masters dropped to an even 1-1 card.
“I’m really proud of our team. We missed shots in the field and on the free throw line in the end but our defense held up,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “It’s a big win for us.”
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum):
4:15 p.m. – Star vs. Blackwater
7 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs. Alaska