By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

MAKE it five straight victories for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippine Basketball Association after adding the Northport Batang Pier to their list of conquered, 103-89, on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Had it tough for much of the contest, the Bolts (8-2) used a strong finishing kick to leave the Batang Pier (3-6) on their way to the win that strengthened their claim for a top-two finish in the elimination round and earned a twice-to-beat edge in the next phase of the season-ending PBA tournament.

The Batang Pier gained early traction with import Michael Qualls finding his mark.

Northport would hold the upper hand, 23-20, at the end of the first canto.

In the second quarter it was the Bolts who would hit their strides.

They opened the frame with a 17-2 run to build a dozen lead, 37-25, with just five minutes lapsing.

Northport, however, rallied back, coming to within a point, 46-45, with 55 ticks left.

Chris Newsome though kept Meralco’s head above water in the closing moments of the quarter, helping the Bolts to a 50-45 advantage at the half.

In the third canto the tight battle continued.

Meralco had control for much of the time until Northport fashioned a spirited run to pull to within a point, 68-67, at the 1:25 mark.

The Bolts survived the assault to stay on top, 62-59, with one quarter to play.

Northport stayed within striking distance of Meralco at the start of the fourth.

The score was at 84-80, and Meralco still ahead, at the 5:31 mark.

The Bolts would then dig deep, outscoring their opponents, 19-9, the rest of the way as they moved for the finish and the win.

Guard Anjo Caram top-scored for Meralco with 30 points with import Allen Durham adding 26 points and 19 boards.

Newsome, meanwhile, finished with 17 points.

For Northport it was Mr. Qualls who showed the way with 27 points, followed by Christian Standhardinger with 20.

Despite the loss, the Batang Pier are still in the mix for a playoff spot as they are currently at the eighth spot.