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Meralco Bolts improve to 2-2

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THE Meralco Bolts are now 2-2 in the PBA Philippine Cup. — PBA IMAGES

THE Meralco Bolts improved their record to an even 2-2 in the PBA Philippine Cup following an overtime victory over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 109-104, on Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga.

Chris Newsome, along with young guns Trevis Jackson and Aaron Black, came up big for the Bolts late in the game as they pulled the rug from under the Hotshots to swing back to winning after dropping their previous assignment.

The loss, meanwhile, saw Magnolia sliding to a 1-3 card in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) tournament.

The game was tightly fought in the opening half, with the teams not allowing each other to gain much headway en route to fighting to a 46-all stalemate at the break.

Paul Lee got Magnolia’s thrust to a fiery start in the third canto, unleashing nine points in their 11-6 run in the first four minutes of the frame to take a 57-52 advantage.

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It was a momentum that the Hotshots would use as leverage for the rest of the canto to stay ahead, 73-67, with one quarter left to play.

Magnolia opened the fourth with four quick points from guards Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon to give their team a double-digit advantage, 77-67, after just a minute of play.

But the Bolts responded strong, on the lead by rookie Black and Trevis Jackson, answering with a 12-2 blast to tie the knot at 79-all by the 7:09 mark.

The two teams went back and forth after as they went on to try to get firmer control of the match.

The Hotshots had some cushion, 88-85, with two minutes left on the clock.

Mr. Barroca made it a five-point lead, 90-85, for his team with a basket off hard drive only to be answered by back-to-back triples by Mr. Jackson to swing the favor to Meralco’s way, 91-90, with 57 seconds remaining.

Magnolia sued for time after and then went to Mr. Lee to give them the go-ahead.

Chris Newsome, however, foiled the play with a block as the shot clock expired, handing the ball back to the Bolts with 41 ticks to go.

Meralco tried to add on to its lead and was successful in doing so, with two made free throws by Mr. Newsome with 21 ticks to go to make it 93-90.

Mr. Barroca was fouled off a timeout to push the Hotshots to within one point, 93-92, after two made free throws with 16 seconds left.

Mr. Jackson, though, gave Meralco more breathing space, 94-92, by splitting his charities a second later.

Magnolia got a break when off a rebound Mr. Lee was fouled. He subsequently made his free throws to level the count at 94-all with 13 seconds remaining.

Mr. Newsome had a chance to win it for his team, but his jumper as time expired did not connect, sending the match to overdrive.

In the extra period, it continued to be cutthroat with the Bolts narrowly ahead, 102-100, at the two-minute mark.

Cliff Hodge made it a four-point lead, 104-100, with two free throws 1:24 to play.

Magnolia managed to narrow the gap, 105-104, with 48 seconds to go.

But Mr. Newsome once against stepped up for Meralco, draining a tough jumper with 10 seconds remaining to make it a three-point advantage for the Bolts, 107-104.

The Hotshots had a shot to tie the game, but they could not complete it and the Bolts held on for the win.

Mr. Newsome finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Bolts, with Messrs. Black and Jackson adding 16 and 10 points, respectively.

Mr. Lee, meanwhile, top-scored for Magnolia with 32 points. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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