MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Meralco Bolts continued their positive start in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup after repulsing Tropang TNT, 88-84, on Saturday, February 13, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
The Bolts rose to 2-0 in the conference as they bid for a much better performance, following a forgettable 1-10 Philippine Cup.
Meralco capitalized on TNT losing import Ivan Johnson, who was ejected after two technical fouls plus a flagrant foul penalty 1 towards the end of the first half.
“We got a little bit fortunate today with Ivan Johnson getting thrown out of the game. It worked toward our advantage because we came out with the victory,” said head coach Norman Black.
An emotional Johnson, who hurled profanities at PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa, was ultimately banned from the league and fined P250,000 for his actions by the fourth quarter, leaving the Tropa in search of a new import.
“Once again we’re really preaching to our players about trying to adjust to the way the games are governed, so we can avoid what happened to Ivan Johnson. I think keeping our composure, just focusing on the game really helped us,” Black added of the more stringent foul calls.
Meralco had 6 players in double digits with Cliff Hodge’s 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and one block leading the way. Jared Dillinger had a double-double 14 points and 11 rebounds, while import Arinze Onuaku, who is still jet-lagged after arriving from Washington last Wednesday, registered 14 markers, 7 boards and 4 steals.
Bryan Faundo, who was the recipient of an elbow from Johnson that caused the flagrant foul with left 4:21 before halftime, added 11 points, 6 rebounds and a block.
Guards Jimmy Alapag and Baser Amer had 10 points each.
Johnson, a former Atlanta Hawks player, was whistled for his first technical at the 9:02 mark of the second for second motion on Kelly Nabong. (READ: Banned TNT import Johnson: ‘The devil is working overtime’)
Johnson, who fast developed notoriety for his aggressive antics last season, finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds and a block in close to 16 minutes of play. (READ: TNT rues lack of due process on banned import Johnson)
The defending champions had Jayson Castro and showing the way with 25 points and 15 of that coming in the fourth. Castro also had 5 assists while Larry Fonacier had 15 points.
Meralco (88): Hodge 15, Dillinger 14, Onuaku 14, Faundo 11, Alapag 10, Amer 10, Newsome 9, David 3, Al-Hussaini 2, Bono 0, Buenafe 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0, Nabong 0.
TNT (84): Castro 25, Fonacier 15, Johnson 9, Williams 8, De Ocampo 7, Reyes R. 7, Carey 6, Nuyles 4, Tautuaa 3, Ababou 0, Rosser 0, Reyes J. 0, Aban 0.
Quarter scores: 16-20, 33-26, 61-55, 88-84.
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