After absorbing a tough overtime loss in their debut, the Meralco Bolts rebounded with an impressive 99-94 win against the Blackwater Elite in the 2019 Honda PBA Philippine Cup Saturday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
With his fellow rookies starting to make a name for themselves in the young season, Trevis Jackson introduced himself to PBA fans with 19 points to lead all scorers.
Jackson was scoreless in his debut game but he more than made up for it as he connected on two crucial triples in the fourth quarter just as Blackwater was threatening a comeback.
Meralco was up by eight points with 1:20 remaining in the game when Blackwater went on a last-ditch rally to try and salvage a win. Allein Maliksi inched his team closer with the layup and then the Bolts suffered two straight turnovers that led to baskets from Raymar Jose and Roi Sumang to cut the Elite's deficit to only two points, 96-94, with 12 seconds remaining.
Blackwater fouled Baser Amer to try and extend the game but the steady guard connected on both free throws to make it a two-possession game. The Elite drew up a play that was for Jose at the post but the big man dribbled the ball off his own foot to seal Blackwater's fate in the game.
Jackson and Nico Salva were named the Best Players of the Game as the veteran forward followed up on his 22-point output in their first game with 14 against Blackwater.
"I just try to make the most out of the opportunity," said Salva. "I'm grateful to coach Norman Black and the rest of our coaching staff for picking me up and even giving me an extension. I just want to repay their trust."
"It's a blessing," Jackson said about the win. "I want to say thank you to my teammates specially to Nico for making big shots."
After Jackson, another bench player in Mike Tolomia was Meralco's second leading scorer with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field.
Amer chipped in 13 points while Hodge finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for Meralco.
Blackwater jumped the gun on the Bolts as they led by as much as 12 points in the first quarter. They build a dozen-point advantage, 25-13, with 28 seconds left in the opening quarter after a basket from Chris Javier.
However, Meralco unleashed a 12-0 run midway through the second period, featuring seven points from Mike Tolomia, to grab the lead 34-33. The hot-shooting of the Bolts continued as they capped the first half with a buzzer-beating triple from Anjo Caram to take a 48-42 advantage.
Tolomia's stellar play continued in the third quarter as he scored on a driving layup to give Meralco it's first taste of a double-digit lead 57-47. Mac Belo and Javier did their best to keep the Elite within striking distance but Meralco held on to a nine-point lead, 74-64, after another buzzer beater to end the third quarter, this time courtesy of Ranidel De Ocampo.
Blackwater refused to fade quietly as they landed the first big blow of the final period. The Elite went on a 10-0 run to open the fourth capped by a make from Roi Sumang to take the leadd 74-73. However, a rookie stepped up to make big shots for Meralco as Trevis Jackson hit two triples to give the Bolts an 81-78 advantage.
Maliksi led Blackwater with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. Sumang added 16 while Jose chipped in 15 markers. Mike DiGregorio looked like he was ready to rebound after a 5-points, 2 of 11 field goad performance in their first game as the shooter had nine points in the first half. However, he only scored two points in the second half.
Javier and Belo combined for 20 points off the bench for the Elite.
Meralco 99 - Jackson 18, Tolomia 15, Salva 14, Amer 13, Hodge 12, Hugnatan 10, Caram 7, De Ocampo 6, Newsome 3, Faundo 0, Dillinger 0, Quinto 0.
Blackwater 94 - Maliksi 17, Sumang 16, Jose 15, Belo 12, Digregorio 11, Tratter 8, Javier 8, Dario 3, Desiderio 2, Palma 2, Alolino 0.
Quarters: 16-25, 48-42, 73-64, 99-94.
-- After failing to score in his first PBA game, rookie Trevis Jackson finally got the first basket of his professional career on a four-point play late in the first quarter. He did not have to wait long before his next one as he canned another triple to close out the first quarter.
-- Blackwater rookie Diego Dario also scored his first PBA basket in the game. It was a three-point shot late in the first quarter as well.
Meralco vs. San Miguel Beer on Jan. 25 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo
Blackwater vs. Rain or Shine on Jen. 30 at the Cuneta Astrodome