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MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts failed to make it two wins in a row in the East Asia Super League (EASL) as they suffered a heartbreaking 81-80 defeat at the hands of Juan Gomez de Liaño and the Seoul SK Knights at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, December 27.
After trailing by 11 points, 66-77, at the 4:20 mark of the fourth quarter, the Bolts fought their way back and pulled within just a single point, 80-81, off a crafty left-hand finish by their high-scoring import Zach Lofton with only 42.5 seconds left.
Meralco then had a chance to win it all in the final possession after forcing a crucial stop on Seoul reinforcement Jameel Warney with 14 ticks remaining.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, they couldn’t even put a shot up in the final play as Prince Ibeh, their second EASL import, turned the ball over after receiving a bounce pass from Chris Banchero inside the paint.
Warney led the charge for the Knights with 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, while An Young-jun poured in 19 markers built on five treys.
Gomez de Liaño, meanwhile, made the most of his playing time for Seoul, putting up 4 points and 1 assist in just 4:25 minutes of action in the first half.
For the Bolts, Lofton dropped a game-high 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 7 rebounds.
Ibeh and Chris Newsome, who starred for Meralco in its breakthrough EASL win against the Ryukyu Golden Kings last December 13, backstopped Lofton with 13 markers each.
With the hard-earned victory, the Knights improved to 2-2 in Group B and shoved the Bolts down to 1-3.
Meralco aims to keep its slim playoff hopes alive when it hosts former NBA star Jeremy Lin and the New Taipei Kings at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, January 3. – Rappler.com