Meralco failed to sustain an early surge and fell to the New Taipei Kings, 97-92, Wednesday night in the EASL at the Xinzhuang gymnasium in Taipei City.
The Bolts leaned on the hot start of new import Zach Lofton, who fired 19 of his game-high 35 points in the first half, which they dominated and even stretched all the way to the third period.
But behind former NBA player Jeremy Lin, the Kings got their rhythm going when it mattered most, hitting 5-of-7 threes in the final quarter to complete the comeback win.
The 35-year-old Lin spearheaded a late run by the home team to give the Kings a 94-85 lead in the final 1:24 of the tightly-fought game.
“Man, I’m proud of my team,” said Lin, who won an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. “But what I really liked was in the second half, we were really locked in defensively. We got a lot of great defenders as well. This was a full team effort. Fun game.”
Lin finished with a team-high 25 points and accounted for seven of the Kings’ 21 assists. He also went 11-of-12 from the stripe in leading the P.League+ side to a 2-0 record and remained atop Group B.
Lofton was 3-of-6 from the three-point arc, while import partner Prince Ibeh added 18 points and six rebounds for Meralco, which suffered a second straight loss to stay at the bottom of its group.
The Bolts, who held a three-point lead at the half and a slim 66-65 edge entering the fourth quarter, also got double figures from Chris Newsome with 16 and guard Anjo Caram with 10.
“I think they came out really hot, came out with a lot of energy. We didn’t really do a good job on the glass, and we didn’t take their space away,” said New Taipei coach Ryan Marchand of the PBA team.
Meralco’s next game will be on Dec. 13 in Macau in a rematch with B. League champion Ryukyu Golden Kings.