MERALCO aims to keep giving Alaska a dose of its own medicine as it tries to turn their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series to their favor on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts turned a pesky defense that led to fastbreaks and open outside shots, the very same strategy the Aces are known for, to hack out a 92-87 win in Game Two that equalized the best-of-five series at one game apiece.
“We were able to string together a lot of defensive stops and it led to our transition game,” Bolts rookie Chris Newsome said. “It really comes down to hustle and just kind of wanting it.”
The Bolts seek to keep doing what’s working as they try to take the series lead after Game Three that tips off at 7 p.m.
The Bolts’ on-ball defense was typified by Newsome as he shackled RJ Jazul, holding the Aces playmaker to just four points, missing all but one of his five shots in 26 minutes after scoring 18 on 6-of-9 shooting in the series opener.
“At times that I was on him, I know that he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now, so basically my job was just to make it hard for him,” said Newsome.
Newsome likewise delivered on offense with 19 points, including two on a breakaway slam, and missed a double-double by two rebounds, along with three assists and one steal, and the Rookie of the Year candidate continues to lead the Bolts’ attack along with Jared Dillinger.
Arinze Onuaku anchors the Bolts anew after pumping in 22 points, 14 boards, and six assists as he made smarter decisions on either attacking the double-team or feeding the open man for the outside shot.
“For us to win this series, we have to continue doing that,” Bolts coach Norman Black said as he expects a fightback from the Aces, led by Rob Dozier and Calvin Abueva.