By Olmin Leyba
Meralco turned to full power and fried hard-luck Blackwater, 98-77, for a rousing debut in the 46th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tony Bishop marked his PBA arrival with 28 points, 13 rebounds and three shot blocks to spark the Bolts to the 21-point triumph in Day 2 of the league’s Big Dome games with a live audience.
Nards Pinto led a solid local support as he scored 18 with seven assists and two steals coming off the bench. Mr. Pinto fired 11 of his output in the second canto, which provided the juice for Meralco’s 32-20 pullaway run.
“It’s exactly what we really hoped for. We wanted to get to a great start this conference and try to catch up with teams who already played a lot of games,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
The Bolts sent the injury-plagued Bossing reeling to their third straight setback, their long-standing skid extended to 22 games overall since last year’s All-Filipino.
Mr. Bishop is filling in the big shoes of Meralco’s resident import Allen Durham in the import-spiced tournament and showed he could get the job done.
“He showed he can shoot from the perimeter and get points inside and more importantly, he rebounded the basketball and blocked some shots defensively,” said Mr. Black of their Panamanian reinforcement.
“He has a lot of versatility in his game, an all-around player. I don’t think he’s the give-him-the-ball, get-out-of-the-way type of player but he fits well with what we do.”
Despite absence of JVee Casio, Josh Torralba, Kelly Nabong. Kobe Paras and Mike Ayonayon to various injuries, the Bossing fought the Bolts on even terms in the first 12 minutes.
The Bossing were still in the thick of things early in the second before Messrs. Pinto, Newsome and Bishop triggered a 17-5 salvo that pushed the Bolts to a 44-29 tear.
“I think the combination of Nards Pinto and Anjo Caram coming off the bench defensively was a difference-maker and changed the momentum of the game as soon as they entered,” noted Mr. Black.
Mr. Newsome added 11 while Raymund Almazan posted 10 markers and nine boards aside from his defensive duties on Blackwater import Jaylen Bond.
Mr. Bond finished with 18 plus 15 rebounds as Rashawn McCarthy paced the Bossing with 19.