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    Anjo Caram delivers big blows as Meralco sends NLEX packing

    Oct 1, 2021
    Anjo Caram of Meralco drives against NLEX
    PHOTO: PBA Images

    MERALCO advanced to the semifinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup after overcoming NLEX, 97-86, in a do-or-die match at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Friday night.

    Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge set the tone early while Anjo Caram delivered the finishing blows as the No.2 ranked Bolts bounced back after losing to the seventh-seeded Road Warriors at the start of their quarterfinals last Wednesday.

    With the victory, Meralco completed the cast in the semifinals where it will face No. 3 Magnolia, which will be looking to exact revenge after blowing a 13-point lead in the final minutes before losing to the Bolts, 95-94, last Sept. 1.

    Top seed TNT and fourth-seed San Miguel clash in the other Final Four best-of-seven match-up.

    Reynel Hugnatan of Meralco shoots over NLEX center JR Quinahan.

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    “Whenever you play against Yeng Guiao teams, it’s always going to be a tough game,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “It’s always going to be a physical game. It’s gonna be a lot of intensity like what you saw tonight."

    Newsome scored 23 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists in his best game since emerging from the league’s health and safety protocols two weeks ago. Hodge added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Caram had 16 points and six assists in a surprise start at point guard.

    Newsome already had seven in the first quarter, before Hodge added 10 in the second to open a 32-21 lead.

    Caram douses NLEX comeback

    The Bolts led by as many as 18 points, 62-44. When the lead was cut to seven, 82-75, by the rallying Road Warriors, Caram drained a trey and a reverse lay-up to push Meralco’s lead back to 91-76, with 3:14 remaining.

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    Reynel Hugnatan added with 11 points for the Bolts.

    The loss concluded a chaotic NLEX campaign that saw top star Kiefer Ravena leave the team to attend to his paper work for his campaign with the Shiga Lakestars in the Japan B.League, which, incidentally, will formally begin on Saturday.

    Don Trollano scored 19 points while Calvin Oftana, the hero in NLEX’s win in the series opener, had 14 points and 11 rebounds but was held scoreless in the second half.

    NLEX coach Yeng Guiao was sent off at the 1:57 mark of the fourth quarter for two technical fouls.

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      The scores:

      Meralco 97 – Newsome 23, Hodge 16, Caram 16, Hugnatan 11, Quinto 9, Maliksi 8, Belo 7, Pinto 5, Almazan 2, Pasaol 0.

      NLEX 86 – Trollano 19, Oftana 14, Quinahan 13, Cruz 11, Alas 10, Semerad 8, Soyud 4, Paniamogan 3, Ighalo 2, Miranda 2.

      Quarters: 22-21; 46-35; 68-60; 97-86.

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      PHOTO: PBA Images
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