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Meralco bucks slow start to stun Star

PBA

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Meralco bounced back from a sluggish first quarter start to shock Star, 90-86, in the nightcap of Day 1 of the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

The Hotshots, who once again brought in Denzel Bowles, started the match on an 8-0 run and eventually opened a 22-8 cushion in the opening frame.

But the Bolts, who debuted Arinze Onuaku, slowly slashed their deficit and eventually took a 56-50 lead in the third period.

An 11-1 run put Star up anew, 61-57, but Meralco answered with six straight points to lead once more, 63-61.

After both clubs engaged in a close contest for the latter part of the third and the opening stages of the fourth, the Bolts tried to pull away as they built a ten-point advantage, 85-75, with 3:49 left.

But a crucial 11-3 run capped by a four-point play from P.J. Simon cut the lead to just two, 88-86, with 36 seconds remaining.

Onuaku then made a hook shot to increase the lead to four with 17.4 seconds to go.

Simon missed on a needed triple, and Cliff Hodge grabbed the rebound as the Bolts ran off the clock.

Onuaku finished with a 20-20 game of 25 points and 22 rebounds along with three assists for Meralco, which only won once, also against Star, in the Philippine Cup.

Bowles led Star with 20 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals.

Meralco 90-Onuaku 25, Newsome 16, Hodge 12, Amer 10, David 8, Nabong 7, Alapag 6, Caram 4, Faundo 2, Bono 0, Dillinger 0, Hugnatan 0

Star 86-Bowles 20, Maliksi 14, Simon 12, Barroca 11, Pingris 8, Sangalang 5, Yap 5, Melton 4, Pascual 4, Cruz 3, Reavis 0, Torres 0

Quarterscores: 18-26, 42-43, 67-65, 90-86

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno