PBA: Meralco tabs crucial win, takes Ginebra out of twice-to-beat race

Meralco’s Chris Newsome. –PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Meralco showed its teeth on defense right at the jump and kept at it all of Wednesday night to pummel Barangay Ginebra, 90-73, in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

The Bolts had a man in front of every shooter and hands in the passing lanes to keep the crowd darlings under 17 points in the first three quarters.

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And with Norman Black still in the US to tend to his ailing mother, the club proved a resilient bunch, holding on for a fifth win in eight meetings that kept them in the middle of the pack.

“We really needed this win for our playoff hopes. And we needed this for coach Luigi (Trillo’s) birthday,” said Cliff Hodge, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Chris Newsome led the way for Meralco with 19 points, as Chris Banchero and Bong Quinto chipped in 17 and 10, respectively. Raymond Almazan added just six in the scoring effort but finished with 15 rebounds and two blocks.

“I guess it was their legs catching up with them (the Gin Kings),” said Trillo, who is standing in for Black. “But it was really nice to see multiple guys chip in for this team.”

Scottie Thompson had 14, Nard Pinto 12 while twin towers Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger at least 10 each for Barangay Ginebra which absorbed a second-straight loss and dropped to 6-3, crashing out of the race for a twice-to-beat incentive

PROBLEMS ARISE

Ginebra both lost to TNT and Magnolia. The Hotshots and the Bolts have a chance at tying the Tropang Giga with an 8-3 record with Gin Kings set to place last should there be a deadlock among those teams.

“Obviously, there are a lot of problems to be fixed. But you know, the only way to fix those is together. I can’t pinpoint just one particular thing. There’s a lot of things that we need to analyze, a lot of soul-searching,” said the Gin Kings’ Richard del Rosario.

Filling in for coach Tim Cone, Del Rosario said that the Ginebra is now past thinking about the twice-to-beat incentive. What bothers them more now is the way the team lost its last two matches.

“It’s the manner of how we lost the last two games,” he went on. “That’s what we need to address. We have to show more teammanship and togetherness especially in times of adversity. That’s what we’re going to address the next couple of days.”

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“Coach Tim will be back, that’s the good news. He’ll be back Saturday morning so he’ll be here for the next game. I’m sure his presence will give the players a huge lift,” the longtime Cone assistant said.

With the victory, Meralco got a streak going, manufacturing all sorts of boosts going into its killer homestretch that features Magnolia and San Miguel Beer. The Bolts close their elimination round against Terrafirma.

Ginebra, meanwhile, will have two more games left. The Gin Kings play NorthPort next, and then finish their preliminaries against Phoenix.