PBA: Meralco holds off San Miguel for back-to-back wins

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 18 2021 04:29 PM | Updated as of Jul 18 2021 05:04 PM

PBA: Meralco holds off San Miguel for back-to-back wins 1
The Meralco Bolts and the San Miguel Beermen battle for control of the ball. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA (UPDATED) - The Meralco Bolts recorded a second straight victory in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup after holding on for a 93-87 triumph over the San Miguel Beermen, Sunday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Chris Newsome scored 17 points, including the dagger three-pointer with 40 seconds to go, while Aaron Black had 14 markers and Nards Pinto added 11.

The Bolts are now 2-0, after an 80-63 demolition of the NorthPort Batang Pier in their season-opener last Friday.

"We're always happy to get wins at this point in the season," said Meralco coach Norman Black after the game. "We don't want to get left behind. We're very, very happy with the fact that we're starting off 2-0."

After taking a slim 42-41 lead at the half, Meralco blew the game open in the third quarter wherein they outscored San Miguel, 32-18. Pinto was crucial in the run, scoring 11 points in the frame built on three three-pointers.

The Bolts eventually led by as much as 15 points, 72-57, with 43 seconds to go in the third frame off a jumper by Aaron Black.

"We got off to a slow start," Black said, as San Miguel had raced off to an early 17-6 lead. "San Miguel really played aggressively in the first quarter and caught us on our heels. We didn't respond very well to their physicality."

"But we settled down towards the end of the first quarter, and the second quarter. In the second half, I think our conditioning came into play and we were able to pull away," he added. 

San Miguel welcomed back six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo in the game, but they also lost guard Terrence Romeo with over eight minutes left due to a possible knee injury.

Even without Romeo, the Beermen were able to claw their way back in the fourth frame. They trailed by just two points, 79-77, with still over five minutes to go off a Marcio Lassiter three-pointer.

They could not get over the hump, however, as Aaron Black drilled back-to-back triples to restore order for the Bolts, 85-77, with under four minutes to go. San Miguel got back to within five, 88-83, with 62 seconds left but Newsome knocked down the dagger three-pointer inn the next Meralco possession to stymie the Beermen's comeback.

Romeo led San Miguel in scoring with 18 points off the bench, while Mo Tautuaa and CJ Perez -- making his debut for SMB -- had 17 points each. Lassiter finished with 11 markers.

Fajardo, playing for the first time since suffering a leg injury in February 2020, played just 18 minutes and scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting. He also had five rebounds and an assist.