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Meralco stays unscathed, pounces Castro-less TNT

PBA

By Patrick Sutare

QUEZON CITY--Meralco kept its record unblemished after holding off a shorthanded TNT squad, 94-89, in the PBA Commisioner's Cup main game on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts now grabbed the solo top spot in the team standings with a 3-0 record while spoiling the Ka-Tropa's debut game of the conference.

It was a sluggish start for the streaking Meralco squad before riding on its defense and familiarity when counted the most to score the win.

Meralco trailed early 1-9, but picked up the pace after to square up things after one at 22 apiece.

TNT regained control going to the halftime break, 50-46, despite Meralco import Alex Stepheson doing damage with an early double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds after just two quarters.

The Bolts seized advantage midway the third after a breakway lay up from Baser Amer off a forced turnover spelled a start of an uprising for the team, whose lead went as high as 11, 74-63.

The Ka-Tropa, however, capped the third frame on a 5-0 run to inch closer, 74-68.

Meralco would suffer an early penalty situation in the final quarter, which TNT pounced on as they pulled to within three with under six minutes left, 81-78.

It was a five-point affair in final two minutes with the Bolts still ahead, 87-82, before a booming triple from Jared Dillinger pushed the lead to eight, 90-82, with 1:11 to go and appeared to seal the deal for the red-hot Meralco team.

Stepheson ended the game with 20 points and 27 boards while Amer continues to make an impression in the tournament after cashing in 17 markers, issuing two assists and grabbed two rebounds.

Dillinger uncorked 17 as well for the Bolts.

Replacement import Lou Amundson had a decent showing stats wise for TNT, registering 19 points and 18 boards, but his unfamiliarity with his team and adjustment to league rules visibly manifested in his debut evinced by his early foul trouble and a couple of ill-advised shots.

Roger Pogoy and Ryan Reyes backed him up with 15 and 11, respectively.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @patricksutare
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