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Sports

Bolts reignite drive

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Bolts reignite drive
Aaron Black fired 20 markers highlighted by a big trey in the last 39 seconds as Meralco climbed to 4-3 to gain a three-way tie at No. 5 with Magnolia and NLEX.
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MANILA, Philippines — Meralco, sans head coach Norman Black, zapped the free-falling Rain or Shine side, 77-73 to arrest its skid and revive its playoff drive in the PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Reeling on a two-game slide including a heartbreaking 90-89 loss to Blackwater, the Bolts sprung back to life behind the inspired performances of Aaron Black and Allein Maliksi. who combined for 39 points.

Aaron, son of coach Norman who had to fly to the United States to attend to his ailing mother, fired 20 markers highlighted by a big trey in the last 39 seconds as Meralco climbed to a three-way tie at No. 5 with Magnolia and NLEX at 4-3.

Maliksi banged in 19 and Cliff Hodge added 13 while Raymond Almazan came through with a 10-15 double-double plus four blocks before hobbling in the last possession following a looseball scramble with Mike Nieto.

“Our prayers go to coach Norman. He never missed anything and he didn’t want to leave. It’s hard for us but I’m just proud of everyone. We helped each other and we got the win,” said coach Luigi Trillo, calling the shots for the Bolts with Meralco lead assistant Ronnie Magsanoc also away in Singapore.

Magsanoc is with the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 team set to compete in the 2022 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup.

“It’s hard because it’s been eight years for me. Nanibago ako pero nag-tulungan lang kami. The players and the coaching staff chipped in,” said Trillo, who last served as head coach for the defunct Alaska Aces in 2014.

Later, Barangay Ginebra relied on a mammoth second-half surge to subdue Terrafirma, 106-82, and regain a piece of the lead with San Miguel Beer at 6-1.

Japeth Aguilar feasted inside with 22 points, six rebounds and seven blocks to lead the Gin Kings’ barrage highlighted by a fiery 18-1 rally late in the third to turn things around after a 64-71 deficit.

The Dyip remained winless in seven outings despite Juami Tiongson’s 24 markers.

Meralco also missed the services of facilitator Chris Banchero (personal reasons) but still raced to an electrifying 12-2 start only to cool down and allow Rain or Shine to strike back and gain steam down the wire.

Eager to stop their own five-game slump, the Elasto Painters even snatched a 54-53 lead entering the payoff period before Maliksi and Black sparked a 14-4 salvo to restore order for the Bolts, 67-58, in the last six minutes.

ROS attempted another comeback by striking within 73-76 off Mark Borboran’s three freethrows in the last 12 seconds but a foiled steal by Nieto in the last four seconds led to Bong Quinto’s split charities for the final count.

The Elasto Painters further fell in the team standings at 1-6 with their lone win so far coming against new franchise Converge in the season opener last June 5.

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