CHRIS Newsome scored a buzzer-beating fadeaway shot as Meralco survived Terrafirma, 95-93, on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
Newsome converted on a tough fadeaway shot over CJ Perez as the Bolts put themselves in contention for the top four spots in the quarterfinals.
The Bolts improved their mark to 6-4, tying Alaska for fourth place in the team standings. The top four teams will secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinal round.
Newsome was one of the six players who scored in double figures in a total team effort by the Bolts, who bounced back from their defeat against TNT on Friday despite missing Reynel Hugnatan in the match due to groin tightness.
But Newsome did it again in the clutch.
With 7.5 seconds to work with, the Bolts went to Newsome, who atoned for a blocked shot by Perez on the previous play by converting a corner fadeaway from the right side over the Terrafirma star to end the game.
Meralco coach Norman Black began the postmatch press conference by lauding the effort of Terrafirma, which came into the game eliminated from the quarterfinal picture after Rain or Shine’s victory over Blackwater in the first game.
“Big time respect to the Columbian (former name of Terrafirma) team with the way they played today,” said Black. “I know they’ve been struggling this conference but they didn’t give up. They made things really difficult for us down the stretch. You have respect for that because they can easily give up in the game and they did not. They wanted to win. That’s what the PBA is all about and I hope all the teams play like that in the future including us for that matter.”
The Bolts nearly collapsed in the game after protecting a 93-85 lead with 2:29 left in the match, but the Dyip hit their shots including back-to-back triples by Perez and Juami Tiongson that tied the game at 93.
Terrafirma came up with a huge defensive play when Perez blocked Newsome’s shot on the ensuing play, but Tiongson missed a jumper that allowed Bolts to map out one final play in regulation.
“It just came down to the last play. We had a little bit of a lead in the end, we lost it, and then all of a sudden, it comes down to the last play. We played good defense on the other end to give us a chance to have the last shot. I just put the ball into the hands of Newsome. He is our best player, he has been our best player this conference. I just put the ball in his hands and just gave him the chance to make a play. Fortunately for us, he was able to make that shot in the baseline to win the game for us,” he added.
Raymond Almazan tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Bong Quinto had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Bolts, who got 12 from Newsome.
While Aaron Black and Allein Maliksi had 11 points each, a big revelation for Meralco was Bryan Faundo, who stepped up in the absence of Hugnatan to finish with 10 points.
Perez and Tiongson each scored 21 points in the gallant stand by the also-ran Dyip, who dropped to 1-8.
Meralco 95 – Almazan 15, Quinto 14, Newsome 12, Black 11, Maliksi 11, Faundo 10, Hodge 8, Amer 8, Jamito 6, Salva 0, Pinto 0.
Terrafirma 93 – Tiongson 21, Perez 21, Cahilig 9, Camson 7, Celda 7, Adams 6, Khobuntin 6, Calvo 5, Balagasay 4, Ramos 3, Faundo 2, Agovida 2, McCarthy 0, Gabayni 0.
Quarters: 29-17; 51-36; 76-66; 95-93.