Powered by role players Nards Pinto and Alvin Pasaol, Meralco turned back Alaska, 89-80. for back-to-back victories and the solo third in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday, July 31 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Veteran guard Pinto fired a team-high 16 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting clip to spark the Bolts’ balanced offense as they posted a fitting follow-up to their 91-80 win over Phoenix last Wednesday.
Rookie forward Pasaol also dazzled after pouring 11 of his 13 points in 13 minutes of action off the bench during the fourth quarter to help Meralco keep Alaska at bay.
Coach Norman Black’s Bolts charged to 4-1 and broke their deadlock with San Miguel (3-1) at No. 3 to stay at pace with unbeaten teams Magnolia (4-0) and TNT (2-0).
“We got a big lift from a lot of players today. Nards Pinto stepped up and did a great job for us. Alvin Pasaol came off the bench and was also very good,” said Black.
Main man Chris Newsome flaunted his consistency as he stuffed the stats sheet with 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while Raymond Almazan put up 12 markers and eight boards.
All the other seven players deployed by Black chipped in at least two points.
“It’s a good effort from everybody,” added the grand slam-winning mentor.
With Pinto and Newsome at the helm, Meralco zoomed to a 49-33 lead early in the third period.
Alaska, however, closed within 58-62 at the start of the final frame behind the hot shooting of Gab Banal.
That was when Pasaol caught fire and banked in three corner triples plus two free throws to keep Meralco well ahead, 81-72, with 5:39 left.
The Aces had one last attempt to stage a comeback, threatening within 75-81, but the Bolts banked on their defense in the closing stretch as Pinto and Newsome delivered the clutch baskets.
Banal had his best PBA game as he finished with 20 points built on four triples but it all went for naught with the Aces sinking to 2-3.
Maverick Ahanmisi and Mike DiGregorio added 16 and 10 points, respectively, in the losing cause.
MERALCO 89 – Pinto 16, Newsome 14, Pasaol 13, Almazan 12, Black 8, Belo 7, Hugnatan 7, Quinto 4, Hodge 4, Jackson 2, Maliksi 2
ALASKA 80 – Banal 20, Ahanmisi 16, DiGregorio 10, Taha 8, Teng 7, Tratter 4, Brondial 4, Casio 4, Adamos 3, Herndon 2, Stockton 2
Quarters: 17-14, 41-31, 62-56, 89-80