PBA Philippine Cup

Belo sparks Meralco 2nd half beatdown of ice-cold NorthPort

JR Isaga
Belo sparks Meralco 2nd half beatdown of ice-cold NorthPort

TOPSCORER. Mac Belo carries the scoring load for Meralco in their dominant win over NorthPort.

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Mac Belo notches a career-high in points as he makes his presence felt in his debut for Meralco

The Meralco Bolts grounded the listless NorthPort Batang Pier in their PBA Season 46 debut with an 85-63 beatdown at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig on Friday, July 16.

Mac Belo immediately made his presence felt after a trade from the Blackwater Bossing with a career-high 27 points and 9 rebounds on an 11-of-18 shooting, while Allein Maliksi powered the bench mob with 14 markers and 6 boards.

Off a low-scoring first half, NorthPort managed to keep itself within striking distance as Kevin Ferrer drilled a triple to get within 7 points, 38-45, midway through the third quarter.

But Belo, Maliksi, and the rest of the Bolts veterans conspired for a momentum-sealing 15-3 run to enter the payoff period up 19, 60-41, and never looked back from there.

All in all, the Greg Slaughter-less Batang Pier shot just 17-of-81 from the field for a putrid 20% clip while the Bolts converted 34-of-78 or 43% of their shots.

Slaughter, who was traded from Ginebra in exchange for Christian Standhardinger last March, just recently arrived from the US.

Despite the convincing rout, decorated tactician Norman Black was far from content with the way his Bolts started out the new season.

“It really was not a smooth first game. Our offense was not as smooth as we would have liked. But fortunately, our defense held up. We played very good defense as a team, and of course, Mac Belo had a big game for us. It’s a good start,” he said.

NorthPort offseason acquisition Sidney Onwubere led the sorry loss with 13 points and 6 rebounds, while Robert Bolick – playing in his first game since tearing his ACL back in October 2019 – chipped in 11 markers on just a 4-of-19 shooting.

Season 46 second overall pick Jamie Malonzo also had a quiet debut for the Batang Pier with just 9 points and 9 boards on 3-of-12 shooting while 11th pick Troy Rike added just 3 points and 4 boards in 26 minutes.

The league will resume with a double-header schedule on Saturday, July 17. Champion coach Chot Reyes will make his PBA return at 2 pm with the Bobby Ray Parks-less TNT Tropang Giga against the Terrafirma Dyip, who will be parading first overall pick Joshua Munzon.

Calvin Abueva will suit up for his new Magnolia Hotshots team in the second game and will immediately face his old friends, the Phoenix Fuel Masters, who are now featuring ex-Hotshots guard Chris Banchero and former Alaska Aces star Vic Manuel.

The Scores

Meralco 85 – Belo 27, Maliksi 14, Quinto 8, Hodge 6, Pasaol 5,Newsome 4, Black 4, Jose 4, Hugnatan 3, Jackson 3, Pinto 3, Caram 2, Jamito 2, Almazan 0, Canete 0.

NorthPort 63 – Onwubere 13, Bolick 11, Ferrer 9, Anthony 6, Rike 3, Lanete 3, Grey 2, Balanza 2, Taha 2, Elorde 1, Faundo 1, Malonzo 0, Doliguez 0, Grey 0, Subido 0.

Quarters: 18-9, 36-29, 60-41, 85-63.

– Rappler.com

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