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Chris Newsome, Meralco Bolts hang tough against Phoenix, keeps PBA Governor’s Cup playoff dreams alive

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Meralco Bolts’ Chris Newsome showcased his defensive skills to lead his team to a crucial win against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 92-86, on Sunday, March 5, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

Newsome contributed to Meralco’s victory despite a rough shooting night with a crucial block and a steal in the closing moments of the game, which sealed the win for his team.

Meralco’s defensive tenacity was on full display during the game, as they thwarted Phoenix’s comeback efforts after they cut down Meralco’s 15-point lead to only six points with 2:08 remaining in the game.

Phoenix’s Du’vaughn Maxwell’s free throws brought them within six points of Meralco, but Newsome’s steal and pass to Raymond Almazan for an easy layup put the game out of reach for Phoenix, with only 41 seconds left in the game.

Meralco head coach Norman Black said it was an interesting game as his Phoenix counterpart Jamike Jarin employed strategies to beat them.

“At first, we were having a difficult time recognizing what they were doing and finally settled on what we could do against everything. No matter what he threw at us, just run one or two things that worked for us in the third and fourth quarters. He gave us everything we can handle,” Black said.

STAR OF THE GAME. Chris Newsome lifts the Meralco Bolts’ 92-86 victory over the Phoenix Fuel Masters in their PBA Governor’s Cup game at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Sunday, March 5. PBA PHOTO

He said the first half up to the end of the game was not pretty since they had to struggle for every possession.

Meralco’s win allowed them to finish the elimination round with a 7-4 record, securing them the fifth spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup standings.

Meralco’s playoff hopes now depend on the results of other games, with three teams still competing for the remaining playoff spots. San Miguel Beer (6-2), Barangay Ginebra (7-3), and NLEX (7-3) are all vying for a spot in the playoffs, and Meralco’s fate will be determined by NLEX’s results in their remaining games.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding their playoff prospects, Meralco coach Norman Black expressed his satisfaction with his team’s performance, especially their ability to adjust to Phoenix’s various defensive schemes.

Black said, “We still have to wait and see what happens with NLEX. NLEX still controls its own fate.”

SANDWICHED. Meralco’s KJ McDaniels drives against two Phoenix defenders during their PBA Governor’s Cup game at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Sunday, March 5. PBA PHOTO

Meralco’s win was a collective effort, with KJ McDaniels, Aaron Black, Chris Banchero, Cliff Hodge, and Bong Quinto all contributing to the team’s offense. McDaniels canned 19 points on top of grabbing 16 rebounds, four steals, and five blocks. Black, Banchero, Hodge, and Quinto chipped in 18, 13, 12, and nine points, respectively.

Their victory pushed Phoenix down to a 4-7 record, leaving them in a precarious position as they await the results of NorthPort’s remaining games.

The boxscores:

Meralco 92 – McDaniels 19, Black 18, Banchero 13, Hodge 12, Quinto 9, Newsome 8, Almazan 7, Caram 3, Pasaol 3, Jose 0.

Phoenix 86 – Maxwell 29, Serrano 20, Perkins 13, Tio 7, Jazul 6, Camacho 3, Muyang 2, Manganti 2, Mocon2, Garcia 2, Lalata 0, Alejandro 0.

Quarters: 23-22, 47-49, 73-68, 92-86.

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