PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Meralco averts meltdown vs Converge, extends win streak

Delfin Dioquino

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Meralco averts meltdown vs Converge, extends win streak

DRIVE. Zach Lofton in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

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Meralco sends Converge back to the losing track and claims its fourth straight win behind import Zach Lofton, Chris Banchero, and Allein Maliksi

MANILA, Philippines – Meralco built a lead big enough to withstand a comeback by Converge, 105-99, and extend its win streak in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Center in Pasig on Sunday, December 17.

Zach Lofton fired 30 points on top of 8 rebounds for the Bolts, who claimed their fourth straight victory even after nearly frittering away a 29-point lead and improved to 6-1.

Meralco drew strength from its reserves, with Chris Banchero putting up 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals, and Allein Maliksi posting 20 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.

A jumper by Maliksi with 5:40 minutes left in the third quarter gave the Bolts their biggest lead at 72-43 before the FiberXers chipped away at their deficit behind Justin Arana, Alec Stockton, and import Jamil Wilson.

Arana (12), Stockton (11), and Wilson (9) combined for 32 points in the final salvo as Converge got within 97-103 with 20 seconds remaining.

But the FiberXers ran out of time, with Banchero icing the win for Meralco with a pair of free throws.

Chris Newsome netted a double-double in the triumph with 11 points and 10 rebounds, Bong Quinto added 13 points, and Cliff Hodge contributed 7 assists and 5 rebounds.

Arana delivered 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the FiberXers, who were sent back to the losing track after notching their first win of the conference.

Converge went winless in its first six games before it broke through by surviving Terrafirma in overtime last week.

Stockton put up 21 points and Wilson finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals in the loss as the FiberXers dropped to 1-7 for 12th and last place.

The Scores

Meralco 105 – Lofton 30, Banchero 21, Maliksi 20, Quinto 13, Newsome 11, Black 4, Rios 3, Pascual 3, Almazan 0, Torres 0, Bates 0.

Converge 99 – Arana 25, Stockton 21, Wilson 13, Balanza 11, Winston 10, Ambohot 6, Santos 5, Racal 4, Nieto 2, Melecio 2, Delos Santos 0.

Quarters: 27-18, 55-37, 80-61, 105-99.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.