MERALCO reminded the rest of the field of its title credentials after a dominant win over Blackwater, 107-78, to jumpstart its PBA Governors’ Cup campaign on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
With the spotlight mostly on grand slam-seeking San Miguel Beer and defending champion Ginebra, the Bolts, the losing finalists in the last edition of the season-ending conference, proved they are ready to get over the hump as they banked on a strong start and never looked back against the Elite.
Baser Amer and Garvo Lanete led the balanced local effort, while Allen Durham anchored the attack with 18 points and 21 board for the Bolts, who outscored the Elite, 32-15, in the first period.
“It’s exactly the type of start we hoped for,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “We played well in our last two exhibition games.”
Other teams will also surely take notice of the Bolts.
“We’re okay with that (having less spotlight than SMB, Ginebra,” Black said. “They’re two very good teams so they deserve whatever spotlight they get. We’re just trying to win games just like everybody else.
“We do have the reigning Best Import, so that give us the opportunity to do well,” he added.
Durham, though, didn’t have to carry a monster offensive load in the Bolts’ conference opener as the locals took over early on.
Amer and Lanete formed a familiar San Beda tandem, with the former firing nine points in the first period before the latter fired the same output in the second frame as the Bolts erected a 63-34 lead at the half.
Amer finished with an all-around 20 points, eight assists, six boards, and one steal, without committing a single turnover in less than 27 minutes of play, while Lanete shone in his debut with 15 points – all from beyond the arc – in 23 minutes.
Trevis Simpson led the Elite with 25 points and eight boards, but found little help from the locals.
MERALCO 107 – Amer 20, Durham 18, Lanete 15, Dillinger 14, Newsome 13, Hodge 11, Hugnatan 4, Nabong 4, Caram 2, Yeo 2, Sedurifa 2, Faundo 2, Chua 0, Atkins 0
BLACKWATER 78 – Simpson 25, Gamalinda 10, Sena 7, Cruz 7, Digregorio 6, Sumang 5, Erram 4, Canaleta 3, Pascual 3, Aguilar 2, Miranda 2, Banal 2, Cervantes 2, Buenafe 0, Pinto 0
Quarterscores: 32-15, 63-34, 88-52, 107-78