MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts took huge strides forward, one big 3-pointer after another and one vicious dunk after another Saturday afternoon, October 1.
In a thrilling, highlight-filled game, Meralco shot past the TNT KaTropa, 119-113, to move a win away from a franchise-first Finals appearance in the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts were fully charged from beyond the arc, draining 17 total triples to set a new all-time franchise record for most threes in a game.
“I consider it a great team effort on the part of Meralco tonight. We got so many contributions from many people and we needed all those contributions to get this win,” said head coach Norman Black, whose team battled without swingman Jared Dillinger, who sat out with a hamstring injury.
“We actually caught TNT on a good night. They played really, really well and it came down to us having to match every play that they made on the basketball court offensively and defensively. I couldn’t be more proud of my players for kind of getting over the hump in a way. To win a big game to have a chance at getting to the finals.”
“This is a crucial win for us. It’s not over yet. We still need one more. But this is a big step for the Meralco team to take in terms of trying to get to the championship series for the first time ever,” Black added.
Import Allen Durham topscored with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. Reynel Hugnatan, who was given the green light to shoot when open, fired 5 treys and missed only one for 21 markers plus 4 boards and Player of the Game honors.
The 38-year-old Jimmy Alapag, who finished with 17 points and 3 long range shots, is now also within 3 triples of another career milestone of surpassing Allan Caidic for the league’s all-time record of most career 3-pointers.
Chris Newsome continues his impressive rookie year showing with his 16 points and 8 assists on 6-of-9 shooting. But the highlight of his performance were back-to-back ferocious dunks in the fourth quarter, where he posterized TNT import Mychal Ammons and rose almost the entire height of Ranidel De Ocampo for the second to give Meralco a one-point lead.
Cliff Hodge and Baser Amer chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively, as the Bolts notched a 2-1 lead over their sister team in the best-of-5 series.
“We need one more, one more,” Black reiterated. “We need another effort like this for us to realize our dream of making it to the championship.”
Jayson Castro paced TNT with a double-double 28 points and 10 assists including 4-of-8 shooting from downtown. Larry Fonacier tallied 20 points while Kelly Williams and Ranidel De Ocampo each had 15.
Ammons went scoreless in the first half and settled for a 14-point, 9-rebound output as Mo Tautuaa contributed 10 markers off the bench.
TNT missed the services of guard Ryan Reyes and Asian import Michael Madanly, who are out with a flu and back pains, respectively.
Both playing at a high level, Meralco and TNT had 12 players in double figures combined and buried a total of 29 triples as they put on an exciting show with fast-paced play and fist-pumping clutch shots.
Game 4 will be played on Monday, October 3, 7pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco (119): Durham 23, Hugnatan 21, Alapag 17, Newsome 16, Hodge 13, Amer 12, Uyloan 9, Faundo 6, Nabong 2, Buenafe 0.
TNT (113): Castro 28, Fonacier 20, De Ocampo 15, Williams 15, Ammons 14, Tautuaa 10, Carey 4, Ababou 3, Rosario 3, Rosser 1, Rosales 0.
Quarter scores: 28-23, 50-47, 82-84, 119-113.