Meralco barged into the win column after a rough start to its PBA Philippine Cup campaign by defeating Alaska 93-81 Wednesday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
The Bolts separated themselves from the Aces late in the third and early in the fourth quarter to claim their first victory inside the PBA bubble after being handed a 116-98 loss to the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters last Monday.
Allein Maliksi paced Meralco with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Baser Amer recovered from an awful showing against Phoenix by hitting 15 points in the victory that coach Norman Black considers a very important one.
“If you go down 0-2, the pressure’s start to build,” said Black, whose team faces Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday in their first meeting since last season’s Governors’ Cup Finals won by the Kings in five games.
Black and the Bolts also take on the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok two days later.
“We have two tough games coming up so winning this basketball game just helps our confidence a lot,” added Black.
Maliksi, Amer, rookie Aaron Black and John Pinto were key in Meralco’s pullaway after Alaska came back from a 46-29 deficit in the second quarter to tie the game at 54-all in the third.
The Bolts outscored the Aces 11-4 to end the third with a 65-58, then Pinto made a shot, Maliksi drained back-to-back baskets and Black made five in a row for a 77-58 lead, over nine minutes remaining.
Alaska got to within nine 77-68, but Amer scored eight straight points to pad Meralco’s lead to 85-68, over five minutes to go.
Jeron Teng finished with 25 points and seven rebounds but Alaska slipped to a 0-2 record.