|Anjo Caram provided the spark off the bench as Meralco books a ticket to the next round. PBA Media Bureau|
By Ricky Manliguis
PASAY—Meralco booked its place in the quarterfinals after thrashing also-ran Blackwater, 102-75, in the curtain-raiser of 2018 Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday at the Mall Of Asia Arena.
The Bolts went smoking early using a torrid first-half shooting spree and completely doiminate the Elite to calim its sixth win in eight matches and stamped its place in the final 8 along with Rain Or Shine, Alaska, and TNT.
Using a 10-2 start, the boys of coach Norman Black continued to obliterate the opposition to take a 59-30 halftime lead. The rampage continued in the second half, where the lead went as high as 41, 93-52, form a Mac Baracael bucket and never looked back.
Over-all, Meralco scored 50 percent form the field (43-of-86), including a 60% clip inthe first half, compared to Blackwater’s 35.4% (28-of-79). They also had 49 bench points and had a plus-20 advantage in points in the paint (48-28).
Arinze Onuaku muscled his way to 17 points and 17 rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting from the field with two steals and two blacks in just 28 minutes of action. Anjo Caram came off the bench adding 13 points, three boards, three assists and three steals.
Cliff Hodge had 12 points, Jarred Dillinger fired three triples for 11, while KG Canaleta issued 10 for Meralco.
“I thought my guys played with a sense of urgency tonight. It was a must-win situation for us, especially with the three games coming up in the schedule,” said coach Norman Black, whose wards will next face a tough games opposite TNT, Alaska, and ROS.
"We don't really look that far in advance because we're not there yet. If we get in the situation where we can get that advantage, we'll certainly go for it," the multi-titled mentor later added.
Henry Walker bucked a shoulder injury to lead Blackwater, now a 1-9, with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists, even as Allein Maliksi and Paul Zamar cashed in 12 and 11, respectively.
Meralco 102 — Onuaku 17, Caram 13, Hodge 12, Dillinger 11, Canaleta 10, Amer 9, Hugnatan 6, Tolomia 6, Newsome 4, De Ocampo 3, Sedurifa 3, Baracael 2, Salva 2, Bono 0, Lanete 0.
Blackwater 75 — Walker 14, Maliksi 12, Zamar 11, Sumang 10, DiGregorio 8, Al-Hussaini 7, Erram 4, Banal 2, Jose 2, Pinto 2, Sena 2, Palma 1, Cortez 0, Cruz 0, Javier 0.
Quarterscores: 24-15, 59-30, 79-47, 102-75.