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Meralco subdues Phoenix for 4-0 start


By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Meralco banked on a go-ahead triple by Jared Dillinger and a defensive gem by Arinze Onuaku at the final buzzer to repulse Phoenix, 90-87, in a battle of unbeaten teams in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

Dillinger scored the eventual game-winner with 47 seconds remaining, while Onuaku blocked Josh Urbiztondo's triple that could have forced overtime as the Bolts came back from an early 12-point deficit and scored their fourth straight win in the conference.

After the Bolts melted the Fuel Masters' double-digit lead, both teams engaged in a seesaw battle before the Bolts took an 85-80 advantage with 3:48 left.

But four straight free throws drew Phoenix to within one, 84-85, with 2:38 remaining.

Both teams then made a great defensive effort before Gary David made 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 1:25 to go.

Willie Wilson tied the game on a layup with 1:09 left, but Dillinger answered with the dagger triple.

Mac Baracael failed to equalize as he muffed his own triple, but RR Garcia, who waxed hot in the first quarter, grabbed the offensive rebound only to miss his follow-up.

Andrew Adeleke gave the Fuel Masters a third serving and made a split from the charity stripe to cut the lead to two, 89-87, with 18.8 seconds to play.

Phoenix had a huge chance to force overtime when Anjo Caram missed two crucial free throws with 10.5 seconds remaining, but Garcia turned the ball over with four seconds left.

The Fuel Masters still saw an opening when Chris Newsome made only one of two free throws, but Onuaku saved the day for the Bolts with the block on Urbiztondo's trey.

Onuaku led Meralco with 17 points, 18 rebounds, two assists, four blocks, and one steal, while Newsome added 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Garcia finished with 15 markers but limited to only four in the final three quarters for Phoenix.

Meralco 90-Onuaku 17, Newsome 16, David 13, Dillinger 10, Amer 8, Hodge 8, Bono 4, Hugnatan 4, Nabong 4, Al-Hussaini 2, Caram 2, Faundo 2

Phoenix 87-Garcia 15, Adeleke 13, Baracael 13, Brondial 12, Wilson 10, Urbiztondo 9, Lanete 8, Monfort 5, Intal 2, Pennisi 0

Quarterscores: 19-23, 40-47, 67-67, 90-87

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