PBA Philippine Cup

Bonded by belief: Meralco steals show from San Miguel in Game 1 shocker

Delfin Dioquino

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Bonded by belief: Meralco steals show from San Miguel in Game 1 shocker

SOAR. Chris Newsome in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

'We're just here to represent all the people that have been doubted many times in their lives and their careers,' says Chris Newsome as Meralco draws first blood against San Miguel in the PBA Philippine Cup finals

MANILA, Philippines – Meralco believes it can go toe-to-toe with mighty San Miguel, and that belief manifested in a way that proved to be a shocker at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup finals.

Putting the shackles on the Beermen, the Bolts drew first blood in the best-of-seven series following a gritty 93-86 win at Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, June 5.

Guards Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero led a concerted effort as Meralco reasserted its mastery after also preventing San Miguel last month from becoming just the fifth team in PBA history to go unbeaten in the elimination round.

“You really have to believe that you can get something done and you can accomplish something special as a group despite all the odds that are against you,” said Newsome.

“We’re just here to represent all the people that have been doubted many times in their lives and their careers. We just want to continue to encourage you to believe in what you’re doing and eventually, good things will happen.”

Reaching the finals seemed like a far-fetched idea for the Bolts considering that they were once in danger of failing to make the playoffs.

Meralco dropped five of its first eight games – an inauspicious start compounded when it fell to a lowly Converge side that lost its first eight matches.

But the Bolts suddenly turned things around and ended the elimination round on a three-game winning streak, including a 95-92 victory over the Beermen, to advance to the playoffs as the No. 3 seed.

Meralco swept NLEX in their best-of-three quarterfinals and proceeded to beat rival Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-seven series for the first time as it emerged victorious in their back-and-forth semifinals that went the distance.

In contrast, San Miguel lost just twice going into title clash after a sweep of Rain or Shine in the final four.

“This team went through a lot of adversity to get to where we’re at right now. I believe that adversity made us stronger,” said Newsome.

“[E]verybody thought we were out, everyone thought we did not have a chance. It was our guys, the guys in our locker room, our organization that believed we can do it.”

Banking on that belief, the Bolts stole the show in their first-ever appearance in the All-Filipino finals.

Newsome produced 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, Banchero put up 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Bong Quinto and Allein Maliksi fired 15 points apiece.

Cliff Hodge dominated the boards with 15 rebounds – 9 coming from the offensive end – to go with 7 points, rookie Brandon Bates recorded 4 blocks, and Raymond Almazan churned out 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The game marked the first time the Beermen got limited to under 90 points this conference.

June Mar Fajardo still put up his usual numbers of 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks for San Miguel, although he struggled to get things going when it mattered most as he scored just 5 points in the fourth quarter.

Overall, the Beermen tallied only 14 points in the final period after scoring at least 20 in each of the first three frames.

CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter were the only other two San Miguel players in double-figure scoring with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

The Scores

Meralco 93 – Newsome 18, Banchero 18, Quinto 15, Maliksi 15, Caram 9, Almazan 8, Hodge 7, Bates 2, Pascual 1, Torres 0, Pasaol 0, Jose 0, Dario 0.

San Miguel 86 – Fajardo 23, Perez 20, Lassiter 16, Trollano 9, Tautuaa 5, Cruz 5, Teng 4, Brondial 4, Ross 0, Enciso 0.

Quarters: 19-20, 44-51, 70-72, 93-86.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.