The Meralco Bolts inched closer to securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals after holding off the winless Blackwater Bossing, 104-97, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Saturday, September 18.
With the win, Meralco remained No. 2 in the standings with a 7-2 record and also handed Blackwater its 19th straight loss dating back to last year’s bubble season – the new PBA record for the longest losing streak in history.
The woeful record surpassed the 18 straight losses set by the Great Taste/Presto franchise in 1980.
Birthday boy Allein Maliksi stepped up big for the undermanned Bolts as he finished with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Raymond Almazan delivered a huge double-double of 15 points and 17 boards as Meralco survived a late Blackwater rally.
Despite missing its key players Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge due to the league’s health and safety protocols, as well as Aaron Black due to a hand injury, Meralco wasted little time in flashing its dominance over Blackwater as it built a comfortable 17-point lead, 31-14, at the end of the opening period.
The Bolts extended their lead to as many as 29 points, 75-46, midway through the third frame, before the Bossing unleashed a furious 22-2 run to cut the lead back to single digits, 68-77, with 1:44 left in the quarter.
The Bossing still kept within striking distance, cutting the lead to just 5, 95-100, with 1:49 remaining in the payoff period, but luckily for the Bolts, the advantage that they built early in the second half was just simply too much for Blackwater to conquer late in the game.
Reynel Hugnatan and Trevis Jackson added 14 points apiece for the Bolts, while Bong Quinto chipped in 10 markers in the victory.
KG Canaleta, Mike Tolomia, and Richard Escoto put up 15 points apiece, while Simon Enciso and rookie Joshua Torralba contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Bossing, who finished their Philippine Cup campaign with a horrendous 0-11 record.
Meralco 104 – Maliksi 21, Almazan 15, Hugnatan 14, Jackson 14, Quinto 10, Belo 8, Pasaol 7, Baclao 6, Jamito 1, Pinto 0.
Blackwater 97 – Canaleta 15, Tolomia 15, Escoto 15, Enciso 14, Torralba 12, Daquioag 9, Magat 8, Cruz 4, Golla 3, Dennison 2, Desiderio 0.
Quarters: 31-14, 61-38, 85-71, 104-97.