Thanks to a strong support provided by their locals, the Meralco Bolts turned back the Mahindra Floodbuster, 94-86 to set their 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup title campaign in motion on Friday’s opening day at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
- Monster in the paint: Alex Stepheson served as the anchor in the lane with a game-high 21 rebounds and three blocks to go along with 11 markers.
- Charged-up locals: Meralco drew strong offensive performances from guards Baser Amer (19 points) and Chris Newsome (17 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists), plus clutch buckets from forward Cliff Hodge to foil Mahindra’s late fightback from an 11-point deficit.
- Wasted effort: Returning import James White lived up to his billing as he finished with a game-high 33 points built around a solid 14-of-26 shooting from the field. He also addedf 16 rebounds and four blocks, bit they were not enough from preventing Mahindra from opening the conference with a loss.
- Rebounding edge: With wide-bodied Alex Stepheson asserting his dominance down low, the Bolts lorded it over the Floodbuster, hauling down 58 rebounds, 19 of them coming on the offensive end. In contrast, Mahindra could only pluck down 42, 16 of them off import James White.
- Quote of the game: “The locals really stepped up tonight. A lot of them played very well.” – Meralco coach Norman Black
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MERALCO 94 – Amer 19, Newsome 17, Stepheson 11, Caram 10, Hodge 9, Chua 8, Dillinger 8, Uyloan 6, Hugnatan 4, Nabong 2, Daquioag 0, Faundo 0.
MAHINDRA 86 – White 33, Mallari 21, Celda 9, Galanza 9, Arana 5, Salva 3, Ballesteros 2, Nimes 2, Deutchman 2, Paniamogan 0, Revilla 0, Caperal 0, David 0, Yee 0.
Quarterscores: 22-18, 44-33, 66-58, 94-86.