NONTHABURI, Thailand – PBA team Meralco put up a brave stand before losing to Alvark Tokyo, 73-84, in a tight and exciting game in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018 at the Stadium 29 here Friday.
Alex Kirk finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Daika Tanaka added 17 points, including two clutch baskets down the stretch, as the Japanese staved off a furious rally by the Filipinos to claim their second straight win in Group B.
Tanaka, who went 3-of-5 from the rainbow territory, also had five rebounds and seven assists for the Japanese, who debuted with an upset 87-76 win over defending champion Al-Riyadi of Lebanon last Thursday.
An alley-oop by Alex Kirk from an assist by Seiya Ando with one minute left in the game put the final nail to the coffin of the Bolts.
Two-time PBA Best Import winner Allen Durham finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds and Diamond Stone added 28 points and eight rebounds for Meralco, which bowed out of contention with its second straight setback.
Only three local players --Reynel Hugnatan, Basser Amer and Laneta -- managed to score for the Bolts, who missedkey players Chris Newsome, Jared Dillinger and Ranidel de Ocampo.
The Bolts succumbed to host Mono Vampire Thailand, 92-100.
So impressive were the Japanese that seven of their players scored at least six points to underscore their balanced offensive game.
Actually, the Japanese established as many as 11- point lead.
But the Bolts came charging back to tie t he score at 60all, as able to finally tie the game at 60 after Durham and Amer hit back-to-back baskets against theJapanese’s tight defense.
But a 6-0 run by the Japanese, capped by a lay-up by Tanaka, enabled Alvark to regain control.
Tanaka himself nailed a triple to open a 75-66 lead for Alvark with only 3:09 remaining.
Meralco will try to avert going home with a winless record when it meets Al Riyadi at the close of elimination round Saturday.
Alvark Tokyo (84) -- Kirk 23, Tanaka 17, Kojima 12, Ando 9, Bjelica 8, Takeuchi 8, Baba 6, Kikuchi 1, Saito 0, Shonaka 0.
Meralco 73 – Durham 31, Stone 28, Hugnatan 6, Amer 5, Lanete 3, Canaleta 0, Jamito 0, Ballesteros 0, Caram 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarterscores: 19-17; 35-37; 60-56; 84-73.