Ahead for the first three quarters, the Meralco Bolts entered the payoff period with a commanding 22-point lead they never relinquished on the way to a lopsided 125-99 win over San Miguel Beermen in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts battered the Beermen, who missed the services of injured import Dez Wells for most of the match. The high-octane import sprained his left ankle in the second period, returned minutes later, but sat out the last two quarters.
Meralco capitalized on that and went on to claim its fifth win in seven games for solo third in the season-ending conference.
"I think this was one of our better games this conference. We got off to a very good start in the first quarter and we put a lot of pressure on defense by going out and running and pushing the pace as fast as we could," said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
"The team is getting better every game, and that's really our focus, to try to get better as the conference goes on, try to get better every game."
Allen Durham pretty much did everything for the Bolts as he finished with a triple double effort with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Baser Amer shot four three-pointers for 26 points to go with 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Chris Newsome added 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
"It was really a good team effort from Meralco today, led by Allen Durham, who's really been our consistent rock this conference. He's somebody we can depend on every game. He really spearheads our defense. Tonight he had a tough job in trying to control and slow down June Mar, but I think we did a pretty good job," Black said.
Even before the injury to Wells, things already looked well for the Bolts. They zoomed to a 20-8 start and remained in control before breaking the game wide open in the fourth period.
The Beermen, who leaned heavily on reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, couldn't do anything as the Bolts padded the lead to as much as 28 points.
Coach Leo Austria allayed worries about the severity of Wells' injury after the game, although he said the Beermen staff will monitor his condition as they set on a 10-day break before their next game.
"I think for the fact that he was able to return after he twisted his ankle, I think there's nothing serious about it," he said. "... As long as there's no tear, it's easy to manage. But we will see what will happen in the next few games because I told him that he has to coordinate with our PT so his injury heals faster every day," Austria added.
Fajardo had to carry the Beermen on his shoulders, scoring 31 points on an impressive 12-of-14 shooting clip and grabbing 13 rebounds in 35 minutes of play. He sat out the last 3:34 of the match.
Wells hurt his ankle as he tried to zoom past Newsome from half court with 6:15 remaining in the second quarter. He had 18 points.
Alex Cabagnot chipped in 12 points for the Beermen, who have now lost three of their last four games after a 4-0 start.
Meralco (125) - Durham 29, Amer 26, Newsome 14, Maliksi 12, Almazan 12, Faundo 10, Quinto 7, Jamito 6, Caram 6, Hugnatan 3, Hodge 0, Pinto 0, Jose 0, Jackson 0.
San Miguel (99) - Fajardo 31, Wells 18, Cabagnot 12, Pessumal 9, Romeo 8, Ross 5, Nabong 3, Santos 2, Tautuaa 0, Rosser 0, Zamar 0.
Quarterscores: 30-21, 64-49, 92-70, 125-99.
- Meralco acquired Allein Maliksi and Raymar Jose after sending Mike Tolomia, KG Canaleta, and the 2020 and 2022 second-round picks to Blackwater.
- Meralco did a splendid job on moving the ball as they recorded 33 assists. San Miguel had only 13.
San Miguel - vs Blackwater on November 6 at the Cuneta Astrodome
Meralco - vs Ginebra on November 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum