The Meralco Bolts almost lost a big lead but hung tough in the end to beat defending champion San Miguel Beermen, 78-71, yesterday, Friday, November 13, 2020 at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena & Cultural Center Powered by Smart 5G.
The Bolts got a big lift from Aaron Black to erase the twice-to-beat advantage of the Beermen and arrange a sudden-death match to determine which team advances to the Semifinals of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup.
SMB’s Paul Zamar drove into the lane then scored with a floater to cut the Meralco lead to just 4 points, 71-67, with 4:51 to play in the game. Neither side could score for the next 2 minutes.
Reynel Hugnatan broke that scoreless spell with a jumper from top of the free throw circle to hike the Meralco lead to six points, 73-67. The Beermen could not score at the other end.
Chris Newsome penetrated inside then dished off to an open Black who drilled the three pointer from the left corner to extend that Meralco lead even further, 76-67, with just 1:57 left to play.
Arwind Santos followed up a Marcio Lassiter miss to cut the Meralco advantage to just 7 points, 76-69.
Baser Amer and Chris Ross traded field goals to finalize the count, 78-71.
Black drilled crucial baskets late in the game and finished with 14 points and 3 rebounds to win the Player of the Game honors.
“First of all, credit to our coaches. They gave us a good game plan and we executed well to get the win. They (San Miguel Beermen) gave us a scare but we adjusted well,” said Black in the post-game interview.
“It’s a confidence booster for us. These guys won the last 5 championships. We know they will come out strong on Sunday and we have to be prepared. This is only halftime. We only won one game and we have to be ready on Sunday.”
Hugnatan scored a game-high 16 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 2 assists. Baser Amer and Chris Newsome were the other double-digit scorers for Meralco with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Moala Tautuaa had a double-double for the Beermen with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Hugnatan converted back-to-back outside shoots at the start of the third period to push the Bolts to a 15-point, 46-31, advantage.
Tautuaa countered for the Beermen. He made two free throws then powered inside to make two field goals against Hugnatan himself to cut the Meralco advantage to nine points, 48-39, with 8 minutes to go in the third.
SMB’s Bambam Gamalinda was assessed a flagrant foul penalty 1 with 32 seconds left to play in the third. He hit Allein Maliksi in the head with a closed fist. Maliksi converted the 2 free throws to hike the Meralco lead to 9 points, 59-50, after the third period.
The Bolts, threatening to pull away for good instead, barely survived the quarter with the lead.
The Beermen, who regained their confidence in the third, were off to a hot start in the fourth. Marcio Lassiter drilled a three-pointer to cap a SMB run which cut the Meralco lead to just 4 points, 62-58, with 9:19 left to play.
Meralco Bolts 78 – Reynel Hugnatan 16, Aaron Black 14, Baser Amer 12, Chris Newsome 11, Bong Quinto 9, Cliff Hodge 6, Allein Maliksi 4, Bryan Faundo 4, Jammer Jamito 2, Raymond Almazan 0, Trevis Jackson 0, Anjo Caram 0.
San Miguel Beermen 71 – Moala Tautuaa 14, Marcio Lassiter 12, Chris Ross 10, Russell Escoto 10, Arwind Santos 8, Paul Zamar 8, Gelo Alolino 6, Bambam Gamalinda 2, Billy Mamaril 1, Von Wendell Comboy 0, Pessumal 0.
Quarter Scores: 21-11, 40-31, 59-51, 78-71.
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