Meralco rallies back, frustrates Phoenix

Reynel Hugnatan (Photo from PBA)

Meralco climbed back from a 16-point third quarter deficit to claim a 109-98 victory in its PBA Philippine Cup debut Saturday, June 11 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Chris Newsome, Aaron Black and Reynel Hugnatan were instrumental in the rally that enabled the Bolts to begin their campaign in the season-opening conference on a winning note.

The result came despite Phoenix appearing to have wrested control of the contest when it pulled away in the third behind Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins.

But a windup led by the veteran Hugnatan gave Meralco the opening to complete its comeback. Then it was Newsome and Black who finished Hugnatan's job and the Bolts were able to take the lead and eventually extend the gap.

Newsome had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Black scored 19 while Hugnatan, now in his 19th PBA campaign, made 17 on 6-of-10 shooting.

Phoenix fell to 0-2 despite 28 points from Perkins and 16 from Wright.

Wright scored during the first five minutes of the third as Phoenix turned a 51-45 halftime lead into 68-55.

Perkins' triple gave the Fuel Masters that 16-point gap at 77-61, less than four minutes to go in the period.

But Hugnatan scored eight during a 14-2 run and Meralco closed the deficit to 79-75 going into the fourth.

Newsome's three, under eight minutes remaining in the contest, put Meralco ahead for good at 88-87, then he and Black joined forces in stretching the margin.