March 2, 2024

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Meralco Bolts upset Magnolia Hotshots’ outright claim for top spot in eliminations

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UPSET. The Meralco Bolts upset Magnolia Hotshots, 85-80, on January 6, 2024, in Iloilo City to secure an outright claim to the top spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations. PBA PHOTO

The Meralco Bolts orchestrated an upset, denying the Magnolia Hotshots an outright claim to the top spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations. 

Shonn Miller, making an impactful debut in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), spearheaded the Bolts’ charge with a remarkable double-double performance. At the same time, Chris Newsome’s clutch free throws sealed an 85-80 victory in Iloilo City, on January 6, 2024.

Miller, stepping into the shoes of the injured Zach Lofton, immediately made a name for himself in the local pro league. 

The newly acquired talent showcased his prowess by pouring in an impressive 33 points and snagging 22 rebounds, endearing himself to the Bolts’ faithful.

Newsome, playing a vital role in the team’s success, contributed 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists. His defensive efforts were equally commendable, recording four steals that disrupted the Hotshots’ offensive rhythm. This dynamic duo’s performance not only secured a win for Meralco but also propelled them to a 7-2 record, tying with the idle Phoenix Super LPG.

The victory solidified the Bolts’ position in the race for a Top 4 berth and ignited hopes for a twice-to-beat advantage in the upcoming quarterfinals. 

Despite a recent setback against the Barangay Ginebra Kings that dashed their playoff aspirations in the East Asia Super League (EASL), Meralco’s resilience shone through in Iloilo.

Now standing at 7-2, the Bolts are in a favorable position to challenge for the top playoff seeding. However, achieving this feat requires a sweep of their remaining two games against the Fuel Masters and the Terrafirma Dyip.

The Hotshots, on the other hand, missed a golden opportunity to secure the No. 1 spot outright. Hindered by Meralco’s formidable defense, key players like Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, and Jio Jalalon were held to minimal scoring outputs. Tyler Bey led the Hotshots with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the collective effort of the Bolts.

Mark Barroca and Calvin Abueva contributed double-digit points, with Barroca scoring 18 and Abueva adding 10. Despite their efforts, the Hotshots fell short, finishing the elimination round with a 9-2 record.

The Bolts’ triumph in Iloilo has injected unpredictability into the fight for the No. 1 spot, keeping fans on the edge of their seats as the final games of the Commissioner’s Cup approach. 

The Bolts remain determined to extend their winning streak and potentially snatch the top seed, setting the stage for an exhilarating conclusion to the regular season.

The boxscores:

MERALCO 85 – Miller 33, Newsome 17, Quinto 8, Caram 6, Maliksi 5, Banchero 3, Hodge 3, Rios 2, Bates 2, Black 2, Almazan 2.

MAGNOLIA 80 – Bey 23, Barroca 18, Abueva 10, Jalalon 8, Eriobu 5, Lee 4, Sangalang 4, Dela Rosa 3, Mendoza 3, Laput 2, Tratter 0, Dionisio 0.

QUARTERS: 20-16, 35-37, 57-58, 85-80

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