Chris Newsome had a great all-around game while Raymond Almazan delivered in the payoff period as the Meralco Bolts scored a 98-92 upset of defending PBA Governors' Cup Champions Magnolia Hotshots at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum Sunday evening.
Down 92-86 with 4:40 to go, Meralco scored 12 straight points to steal their first win of the season-ending conference.
Newsome led the Bolts with 22 points while Almazan scored 12 points in the fourth, including the go-ahead three which put up the Bolts ahead, 95-92 with 2:27 left in the game, erasing a 16-point lead their opponents had erected. He finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Almazan also put the nail in the coffin by swatting away Mark Barroca's layup attempt in the waning seconds.
Magnolia got the upper hand after it broke a 30-30 tie with a 19-3 run to lead 49-33 at the 5:49 mark of the second period from a Justin Melton three pointer. It ended up with a 57-48 spread at the half.
Halftime became the turning point for the Bolts, as they clamped down on defense, stifling the Hotshots to just 33% of their attempts in the third quarter.
In the latter half of the period, Nard Pinto and Allen Durham connived in mounting a 10-2 run to slice the deficit to just two, 75-73, at the conclusion of the quarter.
Magnolia remained on the driver's seat as they led by nine, 86-77, with nine minutes to go, but Almazan hit some key baskets to bridge the gap.
"It's a good start to the conference for us. It's a very, very satisfying win because we know we're going up against the defending champions," said Meralco tactician Norman Black.
"We also knew they're a very good defensive team and we had to play good defense to be able to beat them. I thought our defense really kicked in in the fourth quarter. We were able to slow them down and stop them on a lot of plays that made a lot of difference in the game."
Newsome led the Bolts' offensive charge with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Allen Durham flirted with a triple-double. The import ended up with 21 markers, 14 boards, and eight dimes.
Reigning Best Import Romeo Travis scored 22 points and added nine rebounds. Defending Best Player of the Conference Paul Lee notched 20.
In a throwback performance, PJ Simon chipped in 12 points.
Meralco (98) -- Newsome 22, Durham 21, Almazan 19, Pinto 9, Faundo 8, Amer 7, Salva 4, Hugnatan 3, Quinto 3 Caram 2. Magnolia (92) -- Travis 22, Lee 20, Barroca 18, Simon 12, Sangalang 11, Pingris 4, Melton 3, Jalalon 2, Reavis 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarter Scores: 27-30, 48-57, 73-75, 98-92.
- Magnolia's bench outscored their counterparts 56 to 25.
- Meralco meanwhile outhustled the Hotshots on the boards, 56-42.
Meralco: Friday, Sept. 27, 4:30 p.m. vs NLEX at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum
Magnolia: Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m. vs NorthPort at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum