by Jonas Terrado
Games Saturday (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. — NLEX vs Blackwater
6:45 p.m. — TNT KaTropa vs San Miguel
While winning streaks are a norm for ballclubs, back-to-back victories are an achievement to the Meralco Bolts.
“It’s been a while,” said Bolts coach Norman Black.
Import Gani Lawal bounced back from his sluggish outing the previous game and led Meralco past the Calvin Abueva-less Phoenix Pulse, 101-95, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lawal finished with 28 points and 26 rebounds, making his presence felt in the final minutes to give the Bolts their second straight win and tie the Alaska Aces for fifth place at 3-2.
Black expressed satisfaction over Lawal’s performance after struggling in Meralco’s 91-84 victory over Rain or Shine.
“Gani made a big difference for us in the second half on the offensive end, even defensively,” said Black.
It also helped that the locals put up big numbers as guard Baser Amer scoring 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting with four rebounds and four assists, Chris Newsome 18 points and Nico Salva 15 points and seven rebounds.
Meralco won with center Raymond Almazan making his debut after being traded from Rain or Shine prior to the start of the conference.
Almazan, who missed the first three games due to an ankle injury, scored three points but had four fouls in 12 minutes.
Phoenix dropped to 1-2 in its first game since the league handed Abueva an indefinite suspension for making a lewd gesture at Blackwater rookie Ray Parks Jr’s girlfriend and for hitting TNT KaTropa import Terrence Jones with a clothesline.
Phoenix was also without coach Louie Alas, who was banned two games for shoving TNT’s David Semerad.
Meralco 101 – Lawal 28, Amer 20, Newsome 18, Salva 15, Quinto 8, De Ocampo 6, Almazan 3, Pinto 3, Hodge 0, Jackson 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0.
Phoenix 95 – Wright 20, Perkins 16, Jazul 12, Marcelo 10, Howell 8, Mallari 7, Chua 6, Dennison 5, Intal 5, Kramer 4, Revilla 2, Wilson 0.
Quarters: 21-19, 46-47, 80-72, 101-95.