MANILA, Philippines – Tony Bishop redeemed himself from a lackluster performance and powered Meralco to a semifinals-tying 81-75 win over Magnolia in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, March 25.
Limited to a conference-low 10 points in their series-opening loss, Bishop scattered 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 steals as the Bolts knotted the best-of-five affair at 1-1.
Meralco led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter and held on to the victory thanks to some big shots from Bishop and Chris Newsome, with the Hotshots falling short of their comeback after a contentious no-call.
Adrian Wong drilled in a triple to bring Magnolia within 5 points with 50 seconds left, 75-80, but the Hotshots failed to pull off a defensive stop in the next possession despite what looked like a 24-second violation from Bishop.
Play continued before Jio Jalalon fouled Aaron Black, leaving Magnolia only nine seconds to overhaul a two-possession deficit.
Visibly frustrated, Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero and the rest of his wards contested the no-call, although the officials did not overturn the decision.
Black then gave the Bolts more separation after splitting his foul shots and Magnolia did not score again.
“The referee said it hit the rim. It is the discretion of the referee whether he’ll blow his whistle or not,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
Newsome backstopped Bishop with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, while Black added 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench.
It was Newsome who put the Bolts ahead for good as he broke a 66-66 deadlock by canning a three-pointer with eight minutes left.
Bishop then stretched the Meralco lead to 8 points with a pair of free throws, 80-72, before Wong gave the Hotshots hope with his only points of the game.
Chris Banchero added 10 points and 4 rebounds for the Bolts, who ended a three-game losing streak to Magnolia since the Philippine Cup last year.
Mike Harris delivered his usual numbers of 25 points on 11-of-20 shooting to go with 17 rebounds and 2 steals, but saw the Hotshots’ locals struggle from the field.
Starters Paul Lee, Calvin Abueva, Mark Barroca, and Rome dela Rosa combined for only 29 points and shot a poor 23% (9-of-39).
Meralco 81 – Bishop 22, Newsome 18, Black 14, Banchero 10, Maliksi 6, Almazan 5, Hugnatan 3, Quinto 2, Jose 1, Hodge 0, Caram 0, Baclao 0.
Magnolia 75 – Harris 25, Lee 10, Sangalang 9, Abueva 9, Dela Rosa 7, Jalalon 6, Corpuz 3, Barroca 3, Wong 3, Dionisio 0, Reavis 0.
Quarters: 20-15, 42-37, 66-61, 81-75.