Bolts stun Beermen in Finals opener

Meralco opened the PBA Season 48 Philippine Cup Finals strong by securing a hard-fought 93-86 victory against San Miguel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.

The Bolts displayed a cohesive team effort, particularly excelling in their collective performance on both ends of the court.

Facing off against the formidable presence of June Mar Fajardo, Meralco’s big men displayed resilience in the paint.

Meanwhile, the guards showcased their scoring prowess through outside shots and fastbreak conversions, reminiscent of their previous 95-92 win against the Beermen during the elimination round.

With this win, Meralco managed to halt San Miguel’s impressive winning streak and gain a crucial 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.

Bolts coach Luigi Trillo attributed their success to a stellar second-half performance, which proved to be decisive in securing the victory.

“They beat us in a lot of categories in the first half, then we came out in the seconds half and were able to do the game plan that we wanted to do,” said Trillo.

“We did a better job in the second half, and overall, it’s a team effort in which everyone was chipping in,” he added.

Leading the scoring charge for the Bolts were Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero, each contributing 18 points, followed by Bong Quinto and Allein Maliksi with 15 points apiece.

Notable contributions also came from Cliff Hodge, who grabbed 15 rebounds along with seven points.

Raymond Almazan played a pivotal role in guarding Fajardo, putting up eight points and seven rebounds. The defensive efforts were also supported by Brandon Bates, Kyle Pascual, and Norbert Torres.

Together, the Bolts rallied in the second half, erasing a seven-point halftime deficit and ultimately pulling off a remarkable Game 1 victory.

Fajardo led the charge for the defending champs with a 23-point, 10-rebound performance, while CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter added 20 and 16 markers, respectively.

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