Meralco Bolts celebrates an impressive win after dominating NorthPort, 85-63, with former top overall pick Mac Belo lands a career-high 27 points on the opening day of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig Friday evening.

/ 17 July 2021

The Meralco Bolts also spoiled the return of stalwart Robert Bolick of his comeback game from an ACL injury, who missed the 2020 Philippine Cup.

Meralco also put the Batang Pier side to its lowest point production in franchise history marking its second-lowest mark in PBA history behind Coca-Cola’s 16-of-80 mark, 20%, in its 78-60 loss to San Miguel in Game 3 of the 2008 Fiesta Cup quarterfinals.

“It really wasn’t a smooth first game. Our offense was not as smooth as we would have liked. Fastbreaks were a little bit sporadic but luckily, fortunately, our defense held up,” Meralco coach Norman Black said.

“We played very good defense today as a team, and of course, Mac Belo had a big game for us. He scored a lot of points for us today,” he added.

While the Bolts did not perform its best night shooting the ball, going 7-of-28 from deep, they did step up their defense as they limit NorthPort to just 11 percent shooting in the first quarter and to 21 percent [17-for-81] the entire game—just slightly above the all-time low of 20 percent set by Coca-Cola in 2008.

The much-awaited debut of top player Greg Slaughter to play for NorthPort did not happen as the squad’s coaching staff opted to sit the former Ginebra center after his arrival from the US. 

Black was impressed by how the former FEU stalwart starred and excelled in offense despite the team not delivering its best performance in terms of shooting. 

“Mac Belo is a professional. I mean, he came in and immediately blended with the team. He’s very quick as far as learning systems and learning plays. I haven’t had any problems with him,” Black averred. 

“He seems to be enjoying being a part of the Meralco team, and he showed tonight on the court, because he led us to this victory. He’s a big addition to our team, and hopefully he can continue playing well in our future games,” he continued. 

Sidney Onwubere spearheaded the Batang Pier side with 13 points, followed by Robert Bolick who chipped in 11 points in his comeback game but was only 4 of 19 from the field and No. 2 draft pick overall Jamie Malonzo added nine in his NorthPort debut. 

The scores:

Meralco 85 – Belo 27, Maliksi 14, Quinto 8, Hodge 6, Pasaol 5, Black 4, Jose 4, Newsome 4, Jackson 3, Pinto 3, Hugnatan 3, Caram 2, Jamito 2, Canete 0, Almazan 0.

NorthPort 63 – Onwubere 13, Bolick 11, Malonzo 9, Ferrer 9, Anthony 6, Lanete 3, Rike 3, Taha 2, Balanza 2, Elorde 2, Grey 2, Faundo 1, Subido 0, Doliguez 0.

Quarters: 18-9; 36-29; 60-41; 85-63.