The Meralco Bolts had to come back from a 10-point deficit in the second half but made a big run to cruise past the NLEX Road Warriors, 91-84, for a second straight Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup win on Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Jared Dillinger scored 20 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to lead Meralco while import Alex Stepheson had a big double-double with 18 points and 24 rebounds.
Several other players reached double figures for the Bolts, led by Chris Newsome’s 15 points. Reynel Hugnatan added 13 markers and Baser Amer chipped in with 12 points and a team-high four assists.
Meralco, which won their first assignment against Mahindra last Friday, joined Rain or Shine atop the conference standings at 2-0. NLEX, meanwhile, dropped to 0-2 in a rough start.
NLEX actually held a double-digit lead, 56-46, in the third quarter before Newsome and Hugnatan both completed three-point plays as part of a 10-0 Meralco run that wiped out that lead.
Back-to-back baskets from Stepheson and Hugnatan allowed the Bolts to pull ahead later in the quarter before carrying a 69-67 lead into the fourth quarter.
But that period belonged to Meralco as they went on a 12-0 run to open the fourth.
Justin Chua accounted for half of those points, getting a big offensive rebound and putback and capping the run with a finish off a Dillinger steal in transition while crashing to the floor on the play. All of Chua’s six points in the game came during that rally, giving the team an 81-67 lead.
Dillinger and Newsome added a couple of three-pointers to push the lead up to as high as 17 points, 88-71, in the fourth quarter.
The Road Warriors made the final score more respectable, closing the game on an 11-1 run but never really got back into it.
Wayne Chism posted 18 points and 17 rebounds to lead NLEX but didn’t get much support outside of Garvo Lanete, who tallied 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field.
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