MERALCO restored order in the nick of time as it held off Phoenix, 108-103, for a rousing start to its PBA Governors’ Cup campaign on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The fancied Bolts saw the new-look Fuel Masters erase their double-digit lead, but regained their bearings down the stretch to pull off the hard-earned win that spoiled the debut of Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.
Allen Durham scored on a putback slam and a stab that proved to be the insurance points that preserved the victory for the Bolts as the Meralco import finished with an all-around performance of 32 points, 22 boards, and five assists.
“This was a pretty tough game for us,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We thought we had control of the game at halftime, but we came out after the half a little bit lax and they caught up with us right away.”
“We steadied the ship a little bit by playing defense,” he added. “But we still have a lot of things we have to work on as a team.”
Jimmy Alapag sparked the Bolts’ early run, firing 12 of his 15 points in the first half after making all his four treys in the first two periods.
The Fuel Masters trailed by as many as 15 points, but fought back behind their long-range connection as they turned the match into a see-saw affair. They even led, 88-83, after Josh Urbiztondo scored five straight points, including a long triple.
But the Bolts refused to budge as they regained command to spoil the showing of Fuel Masters import Marcus Simmons, who registered 21 points, 11 boards, seven assists, two steals, and one block.
MERALCO 108 – Durham 32, Alapag 15, Dillinger 15, Newsome 13, Hodge 12, Jamshidi 9, Hugnatan 7, Caram 3, Nabong 2, Faundo 0, Uyloan 0
PHOENIX 103 – Simmons 21, Enciso 16, Urbiztondo 12, Wilson J. 11, Wilson W. 11, Torres 8, Hee 7, Buenafe 6, Pennisi 6, Cruz 3, Borboran 2, Caperal 0, Miranda 0
Quarterscores: 25-23, 54-41, 75-71, 108-103