Bolts escape Beermen for 1st-ever PBA Philippine Cup title

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Bolts escape Beermen for 1st-ever PBA Philippine Cup title
Finals MVP Chris Newsome
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines -- At one point, the Meralco Bolts almost missed the playoffs.

Starting the PBA Philippine Cup with a 1-3 record, the Bolts won two straight wins in the elimination round before losing another two against the TNT Tropang Giga and the lowly Converge FiberXers, which won their first game of the conference at that point.

They then won their final three contests to secure the third spot of the tourney.

Despite overwhelming odds, Meralco won a PBA championship for the first time after squeaking past the mighty San Miguel Beermen, 80-78, in Game 6 of the All-Filipino conference Finals Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Chris Newsome had a team-high 15 points, with 13 coming in the second half, to go with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

After trailing by as much as 13 points, the Beermen tied the game up at 78-all with 3.3 seconds remaining after an improbable 3-pointer from way beyond by June Mar Fajardo.

Newsome, however, took matters into his own hands, receiving the pass from Chris Banchero and going to the right baseline for the drifting jumper over Don Trollano.

His jumper found the bottom of the net with 1.3 ticks remaining, which gave a chance for San Miguel to either tie the game or win it.

Fajardo then received the inbound and attempted another triple, but his shot caromed off the rim, ending the Bolts’ title drought.

With the Bolts holding on to a five point lead, 63-58, heading into the final quarter, they uncorked an 8-0 run capped by a Maliksi jumper to go up by 13, 71-59.

The Beermen, though, would cut the lead to five, 68-73, after a pair of free throws by Mo Tautuaa with 3:24 left.

On the other end, Newsome attempted a floater but missed. San Miguel guard Simon Enciso tried to haul in the board, but lost it. With the extra possession, Cliff Hodge sank a stepback jumper with time winding down, 75-68.

Enciso answered with a triple on the other end to inch closer, 71-75, but a jumper by Newsome after a big offensive board by Chris Banchero kept the Beermen at bay, 77-71.

Fajardo and Simon Enciso teamed up to help San Miguel tie things up with seconds remaining, setting up Newsome’s championship-winning shot.

Allein Maliksi chipped in 14 points for Meralco, while Bong Quinto and Chris Banchero adding 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

Fajardo led the Beermen with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

Newsome was named the Finals Most Valuable Player after averaging 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. 

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