Meralco wrecks Al Riyadi for FIBA Asia Champions Cup semis spot
MANILA, Philippines – In a stunning reversal of fortune, the erstwhile winless Meralco Bolts reach the semifinals of the 2018 FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
The Bolts steamrolled past Lebanon's Al Riyadi, 96-63, to notch their first win in the annual club tournament at the Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand on Saturday, September 29, and secure Group B's last semifinals berth.
Needing only 11 points to have a superior quotient against Al Riyadi and Thailand's Mono Vampire, Meralco outdid itself with five players finishing in double figures en route to the 33-point romp.
Diamond Stone chalked up 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists while Garvo Lanete registered another 20 points as the Bolts dethroned the Lebanese and relegated them to the classification stage.
Scoreless in their 73-84 loss to Japan's Alvark Tokyo on Friday, KG Canaleta rose to the occasion with 18 points behind four triples while import Allen Durham pumped in 10 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in the win.
The backcourt pair of Anjo Caram and Baser Amer also provided a huge lift in the Bolts' local attack with 10 and 8 points, respectively, and a combined 8 rebounds.
Meralco trailed 23-26 after the maiden period before undergoing a major revamp as it outscored Al Riyadi, 23-7, in the second quarter to head into the break with a comfortable 49-33 advantage.
The defending champs barely made a fight out of it with the Philippine bets enjoying a 30-point lead for much of the final frame.
Meralco finished the elimination phase tied with Mono and Al Riyadi with identical 1-2 cards but will march on to the playoffs in virtue of a superior quotient.
Basel Bawji paced Al Riyad with 19 points and 6 boards while Mark Lyons added 14 points.
The Bolts will face Iran's Petrochimi in the final four on Monday, October 1.
Meralco 96 - Stone 20, Lanete 20, Canaleta 18, Caram 11, Durham 10, Amer 8, Atkins 5, Tolomia 3, Salva 2, Hugnatan 0, Jamito 0.
Al Riyadi 63 - Bawji 19, Lyons 14, Saoud 9, El Nour 17, Abdelnour 7, El Kaissi 4, Ziade 3, Akl 3, El Khatib 2, Kodsi 2.
Quarters: 23-26, 49-33, 72-49, 96-63.