The Meralco Bolts pulled off easily the most improbable comeback yet in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup after Chris Newsome sank a buzzer-beating layup for a 95-94 stunner over the Magnolia Hotshots on Wednesday, September 1.
Newsome not only got a clean lane to the hoop for the game-winner after a crucial Magnolia 24-second violation, but he also drained a huge triple in the previous possession after Jio Jalalon lost the handle off a double-team trap.
All in all, Meralco surged ahead to a jaw-dropping 15-1 run in the last two minutes as Magnolia saw its 13-point, 93-80 lead get vaporized with multiple miscues on their end, and clutch shots on the other.
Not only did the Bolts hand the Hotshots their first loss of the conference in spectacular fashion, but they also seized solo second place away from 4-1 Magnolia with a 5-1 record. The TNT Tropang Giga remain at the top with a clean 4-0 slate.
Mac Belo lit up for a game-high 22 points in just 21 minutes while Cliff Hodge anchored the bench with an 18-marker, 11-rebound double-double.
Ageless ace Reynel Hugnatan likewise provided a bench spark with 15 points in 22 minutes while the heroic Newsome added 14 markers, the last 5 coming in the final 28 seconds of the game.
Meralco head coach Norman Black has seen it all in his storied career, but even he was stunned at how the endgame unfolded in favor of his team.
“It was a big win because we seemed to be a little bit dead on the water tonight. We weren’t moving well, we weren’t jumping well, we weren’t shooting the ball well. Somehow we just hung in there, hung in there,” he said in the postgame presser.
“Defense held up for us in the fourth quarter. The guys started to make their shots. And let’s face it, that was a huge shot by Chris Newsome when he drove to the basket to win the game. He’s normally our closer, and he just made another game-winning shot for us.”
Paul Lee paced the heartbreaking loss with 21 points off a 5-of-10 clip from three, while Calvin Abueva again stuffed the stat sheet with a line of 18 markers, 14 boards, 3 blocks, 2 assists, and a steal.
The Bolts have another undefeated streak to beat in their sights as they face their sister team TNT on Friday, September 3, at 6 pm. Meanwhile, the Hotshots will look to vent their ire on the winless Blackwater Bossing that same day at 12:30 pm.
Meralco 95 – Belo 22, Hodge 18, Hugnatan 15, Newsome 14, Maliksi 11, Black 6, Almazan 4, Pasaol 3, Quinto 2, Pinto 0, Jackson 0.
Magnolia 94 – Lee 21, Abueva 18, Jalalon 12, Sangalang 10, Barroca 8, Dela Rosa 8, Corpuz 8, Ahanmisi 5, Reavis 2, Dionisio 2, Melton 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 17-22, 39-50, 66-71, 95-94.