Meralco got back to their winning ways with returning Aaron Black on the front to dispatch NorthPort, 97-87, on Thursday in the PBA 47th season Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center.

/ 24 June 2022

Black, who missed Meralco’s previous outing due to a hand injury, was all over the floor for the Meralco Bolts, tallying an all-around outing of 20 points on efficient 9-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, and five assists.

Reinforcements also came from Chris Banchero and Allein Maliksi who had 16 markers apiece as well as Raymar Jose who finished a near double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds in the win.

After a seven-point loss to the TNT Tropang Giga, Meralco quickly made their presence felt over the Batang Pier as they pulled off a double-digit advantage, 32-22, at the end of the first quarter.

Raymar Jose and Black took control in the second canto, scoring nine and eight points, respectively, which saw the lead expand to 19 at halftime, 56-37.

In the final frame, Meralco stretched its lead to its largest at 27 points, 88-61, capped by a Nonoy Baciao layup but Northport managed to trim the lead with a 17-4 rally to pull within just 12, 92-80 with 4:09 remaining.

Black came to clutch with a personal 5-0 run in the following possessions that sealed the third win for the Bolts to improve to a 3-1 slate and grab a share of second place with Barangay Ginebra in the team standings.

“We also realized that NorthPort is not a very big team so we can actually match up with them in this game size-wise. We just want to bounce back from our loss to Talk ‘N Text. I thought we played pretty good defense but our offense was really off. Tonight, our offense flowed a lot better and our defense held up for us,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

Meanwhile, Jamie Malonzo paced NorthPort with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Robert Bolick added 15 markers, 8 boards, and 5 dimes in the loss that dropped them to a 2-3 in the standings—tied with the Converge FiberXers and the Magnolia Hotshots.

The Scores:

Meralco 97 – Black 20, Maliksi 16, Banchero 16, Hugnatan 11, Quinto 9, Jose 9, Newsome 7, Baclao 4, Pasaol 3, Hodge 2, Belo 0, Caram 0.

NorthPort 87 – Malonzo 21, Bolick 15, Santos 11, Ayaay 10, Calma 10, Balanza 9, Sumang 9, Dela Cruz 2, Apacible 0, Javier 0, Ferrer 0.

Quarters: 32-22, 56-37, 83-61, 97-87.