04 May 2017

Bolts 81, Phoenix 66

Baser Amer
Meralco kept its tenacity and sharpness from a long, dull 16-day break, spilling Phoenix Petroleum, 81-66, to formally secure a playoff entry in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last 3 May 2017.

Not surprisingly, Baser Amer, fresh from a first-ever All-Star appearance, stood out as the Bolts stretched their streak to three games and jacked up their overall record to 7-1.

Though assured of a playoff berth, the Bolts are likely to step up their drive even more in chase of a Top Two finish for a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.

"We'll try to stay around the top because there are two other teams playing very well. SMB hasn’t loss a game while Ginebra has won four straight," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

The Bolts face the GlobalPort Batang Pier, the Star Hotshots and the Barangay Ginebra Kings in their last three games in the single-round-robin elims.

Black’s concern is that they’re having another long 13-day break after their game against GlobalPort.

"We’ll be off for a while again, and we have to find a way to manage it," said Black.

They did their assignment well for their game against Phoenix, picking up from where they left off before the All-Star Week.

"Defensively, we’re pretty sharp. Our defense held up for the entire game. Offensively, we have a little work to do. We didn’t shoot well. It’s not as sharp as before the layoff," said Black.

But the Bolts showed impressive form, engaging the Fuel Masters in a tough defensive battle through the first three quarters before pulling away in the game.

Amer, suiting up with the PBA Mindanao All Stars in the Cagayan de Oro match, sustained a breakout showing in the tourney, scoring a game-high 20 points and adding three assists and one rebound.

"Another good game from Baser. He's really coming into his own. He’s taking the leadership in this team and he’s very efficient offensively and defensively," said Black of Amer who is one of the key factors in their searing surge in the mid-season tourney.

Alex Stepheson and Chris Newsome also did fine jobs as Meralco dealt Phoenix a fifth loss against three wins.

Stepheson collected 20 rebounds and 15 points while Newsome piled up 19 markers plus four rebounds and three assists.

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