Meralco averts collapse vs NorthPort

Meralco averted a huge collapse and weathered a late NorthPort storm to come away with a 107-102 victory in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Thursday, Jan. 26.

KJ McDaniels (PBA Images)

Chris Newsome, Bong Quinto and KJ McDaniels all provided big hits in the waning minutes to help the Bolts fend off a hard-fighting Batang Pier side and stay perfect through two games, joining Converge as the early leaders in the season-ending conference.

Meralco looked like it would safely cruise to the victory after taking a comfortable nine point lead, 96-87, midway through the final frame but Roi Sumang sparked an inspired 10-0 run for NorthPort to suddenly take the driver's seat, 97-96, with 2:51 remaining in the contest.

Quinto though took matters in his own hands, scoring on an and-1 play to stop the bleeding before a free throw from McDaniels restored a three-point cushion.

Marcus Weathers, however, kept the Batang Pier within striking distance with a layup but Newsome answered back with five straight points – including the dagger fadeaway jumper that extended the Bolts’ lead to six, 105-99, with 21 ticks left in the clock.

McDaniels continued his solid performance for Meralco with 32 points – 21 of which he poured in the second half – on top of his 22 rebounds. Newsome added 16 points, six rebounds and six assists while Quinto and Cliff Hodge chipped in 15 points each.

Weathers paced NorthPort with 29 points and 14 rebounds while Sumang, who dropped 13 points in the final frame, stepped up to Robert Bolick’s absence, finishing with 23 markers before exiting the game with an apparent shoulder injury.

Arvin Tolentino was also solid for the NorthPort with 17 points but was still not enough as the team remained winless through two games.