BISHOP, MALIKSI COME IN CLUTCH AS MERALCO FENDS OFF RAIN OR SHINE
Meralco rode in the hot hands of import Tony Bishop and Allein Maliksi to stun struggling Rain or Shine, 93-88, on Sunday in the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Bishop and Maliksi conspired for 23 points in the final quarter as the Bolts fought back from a nine-point deficit against the slumping Elasto Painters.
With the win, the Bolts bounced back from their lopsided defeat with NorthPort last Thursday and hiked to a second-best 5-1 card while Rain or Shine dropped its second consecutive game and slipped to 3-5 in ninth place.
Meralco fought their way back despite the Elasto Painters leading two possessions early in the fourth salvo, 72-68, as Bishop drilled a triple and Maliksi scored seven straight points that sparked a 10-2 run that gave their side a 78-74 advantage.
Meralco stretched its lead to as many as nine points, 89-80, capped by a Bong Quinto jumper, but Rain or Shine trimmed its deficit within three, 89-86, after Henry Walker’s layup ignited a 6-0 run.
Quinto came off at the right time as he pulled off a perfect inbound pass to a cutting Chris Banchero for a layup that practically gave Meralco the win, 92-88, with 19.6 seconds left.
“Not exactly no, but I do give Bong Quinto credit for not panicking. He held the ball until the right time and that was a heads-up play from Bong Quinto,” said Bolts head coach Norman Black of the game-sealing play.
Bishop led the scoring for Meralco with a team-high 26 points on top of 14 rebounds and four assists despite scoring just six points in the first half.
Maliksi backstopped Bishop with 19 points, with 12 coming in the fourth quarter, Raymond Almazan had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Banchero put up six points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Walker finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Rey Nambatac returned from injury and had 12 points, while Beau Belga added 12 points but was ejected in the final 23-second mark for his second technical foul in the loss.
Meralco 93 – Bishop 26, Maliksi 19, Almazan 17, Newsome 8, Banchero 6, Belo 6, Black 5, Caram 4, Quinto 2, Hodge 0.
Rain or Shine 88 – Walker 24, Nambatac 12, Belga 12, Borboran 10, Nieto 10, Caracut 8, Mocon 7, Asistio 3, Ponferada 2, Jackson 0, Santillan 0, Norwood 0.
Quarters: 20-23, 45-51, 64-65, 93-88.