MERALCO pounced on an NLEX side that looked a step slower, rolling to a 106-90 victory to get back on the winning track in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts established an early lead and never let up as they pounced on a Road Warriors side that was playing its third game in a week to cruise to their second victory in three games.
Chris Newsome exploded for 30 points and seven boards, although his last shot for quotient purposes didn’t sit well with NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, whose team stayed winless after their grueling opening schedule.
“I thought we were able to focus on our defense especially in the first half,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We’re trying to establish an identity for our game, and I think our defense was pretty solid, and that’s something we can stick to.”
The Bolts built a 24-12 lead after one quarter, then even tightened their defensive screws to stretch their cushion to as many as 24 points.
Arinze Onuaku continued to anchor the middle, tallying 15 points, 23 boards, five assist, three steals, and one block in over 40 minutes, while Mike Tolomia also provided a spark off the bench with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, and one steal in just 15 minutes.
But Black made special mention to Cliff Hodge, who chipped in just seven points, four boards, and three assists, but the energetic forward anchored their defense that didn’t show up in the stats sheet.
Arnett Moultrie led the Road Warriors with 25 points, 17 caroms, five assists, four steals, and two blocks, while Kiefer Ravena added 21 points, 10 assists, and two assists, but scored some of his output in garbage time.
MERALCO 106 — Newsome 30, Onuaku 15, Tolomia 15, Amer 10, Caram 10, Dillinger 10, Hodge 7, Canaleta 5, Baracael 4, Ballesteros 0, Hugnatan 0.
NLEX 90 — Moultrie 25, Ravena 21, Quiñahan 18, Mallari 10, Baguio 6, Tiongson 5, Al-Hussaini 2, Fonacier 2, Ighalo 1, Buenafe 0, Miranda 0, Monfort 0, Soyud 0, Taulava 0
Quarterscores: 24-12, 53-35, 83-66, 106-90