The Meralco Bolts showed amazing grit and determination as they overcame an early 21-point deficit against the TNT KaTropa to pick up an 88-77 victory, Wednesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
It was a huge letdown for the KaTropa who were coming off a win against the San Miguel Beermen in their last game as they fall below .500 once again with their third loss against two wins. Meralco, on the other end, now holds an even 2-2 win-loss tally.
TNT looked good in the first half of the game as their swarming defense made it difficult for the Bolts to put up points on the board. However, in the second half, the KaTropa fizzled offensively and also played lackluster defense. After limiting Meralco to only nine first-quarter points, TNT's defense was a bit more porous in the second as they gave up 21 markers. The KaTropa completely lost control of the game in the third period as they allowed 33 points for the Bolts in the third quarter, something that they could not recover from.
After taking the lead late in the third period, led by guards Baser Amer and Chris Newsome, Meralco went on a 16-2 tear as they extended their lead to 19 points, 79-60, for a 40-point turnaround from the early part of the second quarter.
"I did not play well in the last couple of games so I knew I needed to bounce back," said Newsome who was named the Best Player of the Game with 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists on 9 of 17 shooting from the field. "To be able to get back from a deficit like that showed a lot of character from our team. We talked it over during the half and we played harder starting in the third quarter and thankfully it led to a win."
Amer added 17 points of the bench for the Bolts who also got good games from their veterans as Jared Dillinger and Ranidel De Ocampo combined for 27 points.
Oozing with confidence after coming off a big win, TNT got the jump on the Bolts. Capped by a triple from Roger Pogoy, the KaTropa went on a 13-0 start against Meralco, who were held scoreless for the first six and a half minutes. The scoring did not improve all that much for Meralco as they were limited to single-digit scoring, falling behind 22-9 after the first 10 minutes.
Castro tried to break the game wide open in the second period as he went on a personal 8-0 run to establish a 21-point advantage, 30-9. However, former TNT members now sporting the white and orange of Meralco led a counter-attack with Dillinger and De Ocampo combining for 13 second quarter points to trim their deficit to nine, 39-30, at the end of the first half.
The Blur led all scorers at the half with 16 points while Kelly Williams anchored their defense with 10 rebounds in the first 24 minutes.
The Bolts kept chipping away at TNT's lead in the third period as they went on a 16-3 run past the midway mark of the quarter to take a 52-50 lead thanks to a Amer triple. TNT failed to get a field goal the six-minute stretch when Meralco wrested control of the game, as the Bolts led 63-58 heading into the fourth period.
Meralco opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run to extend their advantage to 13 points, 71-58.
Castro led TNT with 20 points but the defense of Meralco focused on him in the second half as he finished with 5 of 15 shooting from the field. RR Pogoy backed him up with 15 points but a lot of these were scored when the Bolts already had complete control of the game.
Meralco 88 - Newsome 20, Amer 17, Dillinger 16, De Ocampo 11, Salva 11, Hodge 5, Canaleta 5, Caram 3, Pinto 0, Hugnatan 0, Tolomia 0, Jackson 0.
TNT 77 - Castro 20, Pogoy 15, Trollano 8, Taha 8, Reyes 7, Semerad 7, Heruela 6, Rosario 5, Williams 1, Carey 0, Miranda 0.
Quarters: 9-22, 30-39, 63-58, 88-77.
- The Bolts never tasted the lead in the entire first half of play. Amer's triple with three minutes remaining in the third was the first time Meralco was ahead in the contest.
- With the action heating up, the game got extra physical in the third period with Dillinger getting called for a technical for an elbow on Semerad while Brian Heruela was whistled for a deliberate foul for hanging on to Nico Salva's leg, causing the latter to fall.
- Against the Beermen, the KaTropa had five guys scoring in double digits. Versus Meralco, they only had two in Castro and Pogoy. The biggest dip in performance was for Troy Rosario who was the co-Best Player of the Game with 22 points in their last game but only finished with five markers against the Bolts.
Meralco vs NLEX Road Warriors on February 2 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo
TNT vs Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok on February 3 at the MOA Arena