Chris Newsome scored 16 points and Allein Maliksi added 14, and Meralco exploded in the second half to beat Barangay Ginebra 95-77 on Friday to tie their 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at 1-1.
It didn't help that Ginebra saw top scorer Stanley Pringle struggle on offense at AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City, Pampanga, as the Bolts handed top seed Ginebra its worst loss of the tournament.
"We did know we have to come out with a lot of effort," said Newsome, whose squad outscored Ginebra 23-11 in the third quarter and 30-16 in the fourth after trailing at the half.
"We knew it's going to be a tough series, it was a great team effort today, a lot of guys have come out and gave a lot of effort today."
Cliff Hodge added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Raymond Almazan chipped in 11 and 11 for Meralco, which won the rebounding battle this time 53-44 after being dominated off the glass in Game 1.
After a split at the line by Scottie Thompson gave Ginebra a 60-53 lead with 3:35 left in the third quarter, a pair of 3-pointers by Maliksi fueled a 12-1 run by Meralco to put the Bolts up 65-61 heading into the fourth.
A subsequent 15-0 run finally broke Ginebra's back, extending Meralco's lead to 85-67 with less than 5 minutes to go.
"We just talked about the fact we could not go down 0-2, because we could get back into the series. It was really really important for us," Meralco head coach Norman Black said.
"We found out in Game 1 what we're up against offensively and defensively, and we tried to make adjustment to beat this team tonight and the players executed very well."
Bong Quinto added 14 points for the Bolts, who guaranteed a Game 4 on Tuesday in their best-of-5 series.
Game 3 is on Sunday.
Pringle, who tallied 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field in Game 1, only managed 9 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
LA Tenorio finished with 16 points, but was scoreless in the second half, Japeth Aguilar led Ginebra with 17 points and 8 rebounds.