By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--With Matt Wright out, Phoenix struggled to find the right offensive mix on Wednesday night.
Meralco exploited that.
The Bolts took advantage of Wright's absence and blasted the Fuel Masters, 81-66, in their PBA Commissioner's Cup tie at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
In the low-scoring affair, Meralco banked on its defense to stifle Phoenix, limiting the team to only 31 percent shooting all game long.
Baser Amer led the Bolts, who secured the first seat to the quarterfinal round with their seventh win in eight games, with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting with one rebound and three assists.
Chris Newsome added 19 markers, converting all but one of his seven field goal attempts, while Alex Stepheson chipped in 15 points, 20 rebounds, and one block.
Jameel McKay contributed 16 markers, 16 rebounds, one assist, and three blocks for the Fuel Masters, who dearly missed the services of rookie gunner Wright, who was called up to Gilas' lineup for the SEABA Men's Championship next week.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno