Meralco started its 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on the right track, outlasting Mahindra, 94-86, Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Baser Amer topped the Bolts with 19 points on a 3-of-7 shooting from three, to go with three rebounds, and three assists, while Chris Newsome added 17 markers, seven boards, and seven dimes.
“We needed it. We worked very hard in the offseason to try to improve our game,” said coach Norman Black.
Alex Stepheson was also a stable force down low, finishing with 11 points, 21 rebounds and three blocks in his debut.
“We tried to recruit an import who can fill our needs in the middle, but we still need to give Alex time to get in shape. He needs to work on his conditioning, but in terms of him controlling the defensive boards, he really helps us in that area,” said Black of his new reinforcement.
The Bolts were in control for the majority of the game, holding a 78-67 lead midway in the fourth quarter before James White closed the Floodbuster within four, 86-82, with 1:52 remaining.
Newsome and Cliff Hodge, though had other plans as they teamed up to bring Meralco’s lead back up to nine, 91-82, in the final minute to secure the win.
White topped Mahindra with 33 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks, while Alex Mallari came off the bench and tallied 21 markers, seven assists, and five boards.
MERALCO 94 – Amer 19, Newsome 17, Stepheson 11, Caram 10, Hodge 9, Chua 8, Dillinger 8, Uyloan 6, Hugnatan 4, Nabong 2, Daquioag 0, Faundo 0.
MAHINDRA 86 – White 33, Mallari 21, Celda 9, Galanza 9, Arana 5, Salva 3, Ballesteros 2, Nimes 2, Deutchman 2, Paniamogan 0, Revilla 0, Caperal 0, David 0, Yee 0.
Quarters: 22-18, 44-33, 66-58, 94-86.