Everything clicked for Meralco on both sides of the floor Sunday as it downed Phoenix, 111-94, for its second straight double-digit win in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Allen Durham muscled his way to 27 points, 13 boards, three assists and a block for the Bolts, who rose to 3-1 following the blowout win. Baser Amer breached the 20-point mark again after a solid outing on Friday and tallied 26 points built around four threes.
Meralco went on a 13-0 run in the first quarter to buck an early 9-7 deficit before continuing to hammer the sluggish Fuel Masters in the second. The Bolts outscored Phoenix 10-2 after coach Louie Alas' ejection for a 43-27 lead.
Not much changed in the second half as Meralco's defense and fluid offense continued to pound Phoenix into submission. Nard Pinto drained two triples in an 8-0 to start the final frame to hand his side an imposing 27-point lead, 85-61, that would not dwindle by much despite an 11-0 counter by the Fuel Masters to cut it to 16 later on.
The Bolts were able to hold Phoenix to just 39 percent from the field and force them to miss 19 of their 24 shots from long range.
"The defense was pretty solid for the most part. Got a little sloppy in the end, with (Eugene) Phelps just playing bully ball and basically scoring a lot of points in the fourth quarter. Luckily we had an advantage to work off of," coach Norman Black said. "We just wanna continue to stay in character and be a good defensive team.
"But at the same time, we know that there are certain teams that you have to score against if you wanna beat them and Phoenix is one of them. Even if our was solid tonight, at least our offense stepped up also and gave us a chance to win."
On offense, Meralco also found its balance to knock down 12-for-30 triples and dish out a conference-high 27 dimes on just 14 turnovers.
"We've been trying to get to around 25, 26 assists a game and tonight I felt we did a very good job of playing as a team offensively and sharing the ball. In addition to that, our spacing was good, which really allowed us a lot of good looks at the basket. It gives us something to continue to work on offensively because even if you play good defense, if you can't score you're probably not going to win," said Black.
Chris Newsome also logged a triple-double of 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Raymond Almazan and Bong Quinto both chipped in 14 apiece.
"We just gotta be able to play good defense and then make sure that we can score the ball. We think we can hold any team to about 93, 94 points per game but we also have to score more than that amount to be able to win," he said.
Only Phelps scored in double figures for most of the game for Phoenix, and he ended up 31 points on 9-for-24 shooting to go along with 24 boards in the loss. RJ Jazul added RR Garcia added 11 and 10, respectively, while Matthew Wright, who led Phoenix with 30 last game, only had four points on 1-for-10 shots.
An unbeaten TNT squad will be lining up with Meralco, which will have six days off to recover and prepare, next week.
"That's a tough one coming up. The key for me this week is to stay healthy, make sure we don't pick up any injuries in practice and just get ready for the game," said Black. "You can scout them and you'd pretty much know what's coming. The problem is when they start raining those threes on you, it becomes very, very difficult to stop them.
"In addition to that, their import is very, very good not just offensively but also defensively, so it's gonna be a difficult game for us. Just have to study them and try to figure out what they're doing offensively and defensively and hopefully you can counter that and come out on that."
Meralco (111) -- Durham 27, Amer 26, Quinto 14, Almazan 14, Newsome 13, Faundo 8, Pinto 6, Canaleta 3, Salva 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Jamito 0, Tolomia 0, Jackson 0.
Phoenix (94) -- Phelps 31, Jazul 11, Garcia 10, Dennison 8, Chua 6, Gamboa 8, Mallari 4, Marcelo 4, Perkins 4, Napoles 3, Guevarra 3, Kramer 0.
Quarters: 28-16, 52-37, 81-60, 111-94.
- Cliff Hodge is close to returning to the fold for the Bolts soon as he recovers from bone spur removal on his ankle. "I'm hoping two weeks from now he'll be back but until he gets out on the court...I would say if he gets back on the court and practice, which is really close now, he'll probably need about two weeks to get in shape and we can go from there," said Black.
- Alas' ejection is his second this conference after getting thrown out last September 28 against Ginebra.
- Newsome on his first career-triple double: "I got pretty close a few times, but it's nice to finally get. The triple-double comes down to not only just me but also my teammates. Definitely want to give a lot of credit to my teammates for knocking down shots. That made it a lot easier for everyone actually - once everyone starts knocking down shots, we become less predictable."
- Phoenix vs. Rain or Shine on Oct. 9 at the Cuneta Astrodome
- Meralco vs. TNT on Oct. 12 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum