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MANILA, Philippines – The New Taipei Kings rode an 11-0 third-quarter start to pull off an 89-77 win against the Meralco Bolts in the 2023-2024 East Asia Super League (EASL) season at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, January 3.
Showing off his NBA pedigree, Jeremy Lin stole the show, as expected, in his first game in the Philippines in 10 years with a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double to go with 4 assists in 29 minutes.
Four other New Taipei standouts scored in double figures, including Jeremy’s brother Joseph, who tallied 11 points, 3 boards, and 3 dimes.
Unfazed with Meralco’s strong first half that netted a 47-42 lead, New Taipei rallied behind the elder Lin with the aforementioned 11-0 start, highlighted by two triples from the former New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers star that set the tone for the rest of the period.
From that point, the Bolts played catch-up basketball, which the Kings took full advantage of down the stretch. Meralco last got within single digits at the 7:21 mark of the fourth off a Prince Ibeh tip-in, 62-71, before New Taipei rallied away with an 8-2 spurt to gain a 15-point cushion, 79-64, with 6:01 to play.
Jeremy Lin – who last played in Manila in 2013 as a member of the Houston Rockets – then put the finishing touches from mid-range in the waning minutes of regulation as Meralco’s comeback lost steam for good.
Import Zach Lofton led the losing cause with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, while veteran gunner Allein Maliksi bombed away 8 quick points in a 2-minute first quarter run before settling with 12 in 19 minutes off the bench.
With the win for an unblemished 3-0 record, New Taipei is now on the cusp of securing a Final Four berth in home-and-away tournament featuring teams from four top Asian leagues, while Meralco drops on the brink of elimination with a 1-4 slate.
The Bolts now face a do-or-die situation on the road on February 7 – a rematch against Juan Gomez de Liano and the Seoul SK Knights at the Jamsil Student’s Gymnasium. – Rappler.com