Meralco snatched an 81-75 victory against one of the league's strongest defensive teams, Magnolia, on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

/ 26 March 2022

After finishing second in the eliminations in opponent scoring, Meralco Bolts showed off their defensive brilliance in Game Two as they limited the Hotshots to only 35.1 percent shooting.

Tony Bishop boosted Meralco as he teamed with Chris Newsome to score clutch shots in a grind-out game interrupted by what appeared to be a shot-clock violation against the Bolts.

Bishop, who was held to a conference-low 10 points in the series opener, poured in 22 points, 14 rebounds, and two steals as the Bolts evened the best-of-five series at 1-1.

Meralco scored by as much as 10 points in the third quarter and went on to win owing to big shots from Bishop and Newsome, with the Hotshots falling short of a comeback due to a contested no-call.

Mike Harris contributed 25 points and 17 rebounds in the game, but the Magnolia import could only muster two points in the final period in which the Bolts barely defeated the Hotshots, 15-14. While five of Newsome’s 18 points came in the fourth quarter, capped by eight minutes remaining that gave the Bolts a 69-66 lead.

“We came to the conclusion that the only way we’re going to win this series is we just focus on the defensive side of the floor, because Magnolia’s a really good defensive team so you’re not going to be able to score a lot of points against them,” Bolts coach Norman Black said.

“Both teams actually played very good defense, but I thought we did a good job on Mike Harris, especially in the second half,” he added.

On Sunday, the rivalry continues with Game Three at the same venue.

The Scores:

Meralco 81 – Bishop 22, Newsome 18, Black 14, Banchero 10, Maliksi 6, Almazan 5, Hugnatan 3, Quinto 2, Jose 1, Baclao 0, Hodge 0, Caram 0

Magnolia 75 – Harris 25, Lee 10, Sangalang 9, Abueva 9, Dela Rosa 7, Jalalon 6, Corpuz 3, Barroca 3, Wong 3, Reavis 0, Dionisio 0

Quarters: 20-15, 42-37, 66-61, 81-75