MERALCO simply refused to lose this time, turning back Star, 87-83, to barge into the win column of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Gary David epitomized the Bolts’ desire to get that coveted first win, scoring a game-high 26 points, including his team’s last 11 that kept the Hotshots at bay.
By arresting a five-game slide, the Bolts dealt the Hotshots their fourth defeat in six games.
“Today, everybody seemed to have the energy, the focus, and the drive to get the first victory,” a relieved Bolts coach Norman Black said. “I’m happy my players came out and gave the effort defensively.”
The Bolts’ solid defense forced the Hotshots to 23 turnovers that translated into16 points and 13 off the fastbreak.
But it was on offensive sets that gave the Bolts the needed separation in the endgame.
Taking matters into his own hands, David capped his one-man run with a midrange jumper off the screen and a layup off a strong drive that gave the Bolts an 87-79 lead, a turnaround from an eight-point deficit in the third quarter.
Chris Newsome did a steady job quarterbacking the Bolts without injured point guards Jimmy Alapag and Anjo Caram as the rookie playmaker tallied an all-around eight points, five assists, four boards, and four steals against three turnovers in 32 minutes.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Reynel Hugnatan were the other Bolts in double-figure scoring with 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
James Yap fired a game-high-tying 26 points, but found little help outside Ian Sangalang down the stretch.
MERALCO 87 – David 26, Al-Hussaini 12, Hugnatan 10, Nabong 9, Newsome 8, Dillinger 6, Hodge 6, Atkins 5, Faundo 5, Amer 0
STAR 83 – Yap 26, Pingris 13, Sangalang 9, Taha 9, Mallari 8, Simon 8, Barroca 3, Maliksi 3, Melton 2, Pascual J. 2, Pascual R. 0, Torres 0.