MANILA, Philippines -- The Meralco Bolts squandered a double-digit lead before falling short in crunch time to lose to Blackwater, 94-91, in overtime in their first game of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Sunday evening.
The Bolts, bannered by prolific import Gani Lawal, led 50-39 in the third period but saw their advantage quickly erased by the Elite.
In a game that featured 13 ties and 12 lead changes, it was Blackwater that made the biggest plays in the extra period. Both teams had blown chances to win in regulation: Blackwater import Alex Stepheson muffed two charities, and Trevis Jackson misfired on a buzzer-beater.
But in the overtime period, it was the Elite that got the job done: Mac Belo scored a crucial lay-up following an offensive rebound, and they got a stop on Lawal in the final possession of the game.
"It's a competitive game," said Meralco coach Norman Black afterward. "We had a chance to win the game."
Black made note of his team's inconsistent performance, noting that there were stretches where the Bolts "actually played good." However, there were also stretches where "teamwork was actually lacking."
"We have to do a little bit better job of being more cohesive," said Black. "We had too many wasted possessions."
"We have to work on that," he stressed. "It was a bad start, but we'll try to build on it, and move on to the next game."
Lawal put up 34 points and 21 rebounds in his debut, but he was just one of two Meralco players in double-digits, the other being Mike Tolomia (11).
Black gave his import passing marks, but also hoped that Lawal would be more patient moving forward. The import took 36 shots in the game, making 16 of them.
"I'd like to see him be more patient and rely a little bit on his teammates, and try not to do it all by himself, which I thought he did a bit of tonight," said Black.
"I'll sit down and talk to him about it, and hopefully, he'll make those adjustments next game," he added.
Meralco plays Columbian Dyip on Friday.
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