ANTIPOLO, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts extended their comeback run in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup to two straight wins after surviving an overtime scare against the reeling Blackwater Bossing, 102-98, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Friday, November 11.
Import KJ McDaniels led the balanced effort with 26 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block, while four other Bolts scored at least 12 points, including 18 from Aaron Black, and 17 off the bench from Chris Banchero.
Sniper Allein Maliksi added 16 points, capped by a clutch three with 27.5 seconds left in overtime to push Meralco ahead, 99-96.
Key Blackwater reserve Mike Ayonayon had a chance to extend his heroic stretch with a game-tying three, but his attempt clanked off as McDaniels set the final score with a split trip from the free throw line off the duty foul.
“I just want us to play good basketball,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black. “I’m looking at some of the teams in the league and they’re really playing good basketball, offensively and defensively, so we want to match that level of play.”
Ayonayon spearheaded the Bossing’s comeback from 13 down, 70-83, midway through the fourth quarter with 9 of his 11 total points powering a huge 19-6 rally, capped by a game-tying layup with 1.5 seconds left.
Trevis Jackson, who scored 14 against his former team, even got an inbound steal right after Ayonayon’s clutch layup, but his near-mid court heave didn’t hit the rim as the game went to an extra period.
Import Cameron Krutwig paced the heartbreaking loss – Blackwater’s fourth straight – with 23 points, 19 boards, and 6 dimes in 47 minutes, as star rookie Ato Ular likewise played his heart out with a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Gab Banal added 14 points as the Bossing slid to a 3-7 record in 12th place right below the Bolts, who now own a 3-5 slate to boost its quarterfinals hopes.
Both teams were missing key cogs as Jvee Casio, Troy Rosario, and Baser Amer were all out for Blackwater, while Chris Newsome watched in street clothes from Meralco’s side. Cliff Hodge made his return from an ankle sprain, but only played 9 minutes to snatch 2 steals and a rebound.
The Bolts’ tough road to playoff contention continues on Wednesday, November 16, 3 pm as they take on up-and-down sister team TNT at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Bossing, meanwhile, will have a one-week break before they likewise face their own difficult challenge in Barangay Ginebra on Friday, November 18, 5:45 pm, also at Araneta.
Meralco 102 – McDaniels 26, Black 18, Banchero 17, Maliksi 16, Quinto 12, Pasaol 6, Caram 4, Pascual 3, Almazan 0, Hodge 0.
Blackwater 98 – Krutwig 23, Ular 15, Jackson 14, Banal 14, Ayonayon 11, Yaha 8, McCarthy 7, Melton 3, Suerte 3, Eboña 0, Dyke 0, Sena 0.
Quarters: 21-15, 42-41, 67-64, 89-89 (reg.), 102-98 (OT).