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MANILA, Philippines – The Meralco Bolts fell to 0-2 in the East Asia Super League (EASL) after suffering a 97-92 loss to Jeremy Lin and the New Taipei Kings at the New Taipei Xinzhuang Gymnaisum in Taiwan on Wednesday, November 29.
New Taipei spoiled the high-scoring performance of Meralco’s newly acquired EASL import Zach Lofton, who erupted for a game-high 35 points in his debut in a Bolts uniform.
Lofton was tapped by the Bolts as their second import, along with big man Prince Ibeh, as their current PBA Commissioner’s Cup reinforcement Suleiman Braimoh still couldn’t fly out of the Philippines due to visa issues.
The one-time NBA champion Lin, who is best remembered for his sensational “Linsanity” run with the New York Knicks in 2012, showed the way for the Kings with a team-best 25 points on 6-of-10 field goal clip, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals.
Kenny Manigault also torched the Bolts with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, while former Bay Area Dragons star Hayden Blankley delivered 15 markers off the bench for New Taipei.
With Meralco trailing by just a single point, 72-73, at the 7:48 mark of the fourth quarter, New Taipei unloaded a fiery 8-0 blast to build a much-needed separation from the Bolts, 81-72, with 6:09 to play.
A two-handed slam by Ibeh pulled Meralco back within 4, 82-86, with 4:11 remaining, but New Taipei went on another furious 6-0 run to stretch its lead to double-digits, 92-82.
Chris Newsome gave the Bolts a glimmer of hope with a three-pointer with 20 seconds left, 92-96, before New Taipei’s Chin-Min Yang iced the game with a free throw in the next play.
Ibeh and Newsome helped Lofton carry the Bolts’ scoring cudgels with 18 and 16 points, respectively, while Anjo Caram, who had a tough task guarding the nine-year NBA veteran Lin, added 10 markers in the loss.
Meralco guns for its first win in Group B when it tangles with Carl Tamayo and the Ryukyu Golden Kings anew on December 13 at the Studio City Event Center in Macau.
The Bolts dropped to the Golden Kings in their EASL opener last November 15, 89-61. – Rappler.com