MERALCO sent Kia crashing back to earth, handing them a thorough 105-76 beating to get back on the winning track in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Facing a team that’s on a high following a breakthrough win over Rain or Shine last Saturday, the Bolts gave the Picanto a harsh reality check, jumping to an early lead before breaking away in the second quarter on the way to the easy victory.
Nino Canaleta turned out to be a villain against one of his former teams as he led a balanced attack for the Bolts, who snapped a three-game skid and improve to a 2-3 win-loss card while handing the Picanto their fifth loss in six games.
“It’s nice to see them play with a lot of effort tonight,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We played with purpose on defense right from the start and carried throughout the entire game. That’s what we have to do to win games.”
Six players scored at least eight points each for the Bolts, bannered by Canaleta who registered 17 points built around three treys, along with six boards, one steal, and zero turnover in almost 26 minutes of play.
Jared Dillinger heated up early, scoring all but three of his 13 points in the first half that ended wit the Bolts up by 19 points, while Anjo Caram provided a spark off the bench, tallying 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, three assists, and one rebound.
Baser Amer orchestrated it all together, finishing with 10 points, nine assists, five boards, and two steals in 26 minutes, while he Bolts also got a solid boost from the returning Cliff Hodge, who chipped in eight points after making all his four shots, on top of six boards, three assists, and one steal in nearly 19 minutes in his first game back from injury.
The Bolts also clicked on defense that held the Picanto to just 26-of-80 shooting for a dismal 32.5 percent from the field, pushing them to a hole as deep as 34 points late in the game.
MERALCO 105 – Canaleta 17, Dillinger 13, Caram 12, Amer 10, Hodge 8, Faundo 8, Hugnatan 7, Tolomia 7, Ballesteros 6, Newsome 6, Baracael 5, Salva 5, Sedurifa 1, Lanete 0, Bono 0
KIA 76 – McCarthy 17, Yee 14, Gabriel 13, Galanza 9, Tubid 8, Celda 8, Caperal 3, Jamon 2, Sara 2, Khobuntin 0, Cabrera 0, Ababou 0
Quarterscores: 27-21, 60-41, 79-58, 105-76