Philippine basketball

New Meralco era begins as Bolts ground Bolick-less NorthPort

JR Isaga

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New Meralco era begins as Bolts ground Bolick-less NorthPort

ON POINT. Meralco guard Allein Maliksi dribbles the ball against the defense of NorthPort's PBA On Tour recruit Fran Yu


New Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo officially takes over from longtime mentor Norman Black as the Bolts outgun the Robert Bolick-less NorthPort Batang Pier

MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts officially began a new chapter in franchise history without former head coach Norman Black with a 97-89 PBA On Tour win over the Robert Bolick-less NorthPort Batang Pier at the Ynares Sports Arena on Wednesday, May 24.

As former deputy Luigi Trillo now calls the shots full time with Black sliding to a consultant role, veteran gunner Allein Malksi simply picked up where he left off, dropping 21 points on a 4-of-6 clip from downtown in 30 minutes off the bench, while Cliff Hodge tallied an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Bong Quinto scattered 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, as new big man signee Norbert Torres chipped in a 10-point, 8-board outing in his Bolts debut.

Coming off a 64-all standoff after the first three quarters, Meralco finally got the offensive surge it needed at the turn of the payoff period, dropping a 14-2 run capped by a Quinto jumper with 8:24 to play to mount a 12-point separation, 78-66.

Late three-pointers by veteran sniper Jeff Chan pushed NorthPort back within single digits late in the game, but the Bolts simply held on until the end to ward off the Batang Pier upset bid in the no-bearing exhibition series.

Chan led the losing cause with 20 points, 7 coming in the fourth, while young forward JM Calma tallied a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Paul Zamar and Kent Salado, now taking the playmaking reins in the absence of the Japan B. League-bound Bolick, added 12 and 8 points, respectively.

Former NCAA Finals MVP Fran Yu, a longtime ward of NorthPort head coach Bonnie Tan and deputy Jeff Napa in Letran, also tallied 5 points in 20 minutes in his unofficial PBA debut.

The Scores

Meralco 97 – Maliksi 21, Quinto 12, Caram 11, Torres 10, Hodge 11, Pascual 9, Pasaol 8, Jose 7, Almazan 6, Rios 0, Manday 0.

NorthPort 89 – Chan 20, Calma 15, Zamar 12, Ayaay 9, Santos 9, Salado 8, Yu 5, Munzon 5, Taha 2, Balagasay 2, Olivario 2, Bulawan 0, Caperal 0, Gabriel 0, Comboy 0.

Quarters: 26-12, 51-40, 64-64, 97-89.


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