MERALCO drew steady fire from import Gani Lawal and three hardworking locals to defeat a hard-fighting Phoenix Fuels, 101-95, and clinch its second straight win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco coach Norman Black had earlier said his Bolts couldn’t take the Fuel Masters for granted though they were hounded by a controversy that had resulted into two-game suspension on head coach Louie Alas, and an indefinite suspension on Calvin Abueva.
True to his words, Black saw his Bolts walk the proverbial tightrope, with their third win overall in five outings becoming clear only in the final minute of the game.
Without Abueva, the Bolts were able to dominate the rebound, cornering as many as 55 as against Phoenix’s 44.
Lawal emerged as the top scorer and top rebounder as well, scoring 28 points and pulling down 26 rebounds, and was well complemented by Baser Amer, Chris Newsome and Nico Salva on both ends.
Amer cut loose with 20 points that went with 4 rebounds and 4 assists, Newsome added 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and Salva 15 points and 7 rebounds.
However, the Bolts had to work hard until the final minute, and had to rely on Lawal and Newsome for the big points to eke out with the win as Phoenix sputtered under the most crucial phase of the game’.
Phoenix’s new import Richard Howell, who had replaced an injured Rob Dozier, failed to make the difference as he came up with just eight points and nine rebounds inside 23 minutes on court.
The Fuel Masters tumbled to their second loss in three outings.
Meanwhile, Blackwater returns to action today as it guns for the solo lead but will have to deal with a dangerous NLEX in one of two Petron Blaze Saturday Special at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The Road Warriors have lost all their first four outings in the midseason conference and that gives Elite coach Aries Dimaunahan some concerns in their 4:30 p.m. meeting.
Meralco 101 - Lawal 28, Amer 20, Newsome 18, Salva 15, Quinto 8, De Ocampo 6, Almazan 3, Pinto 3, Hodge 0, Jackson 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0.
Phoenix 95 - Wright 20, Perkins 16, Jazul 12, Marcelo 10, Howell 8, Mallari 7, Chua 6, Dennison 5, Intal 5, Kramer 4, Revilla 2, Wilson 0.
Quarterscores: 21-19, 46-47, 80-72, 101-95.