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Meralco enters FIBA Asia CC semis after dethroning Al-Riyadi

Meralco's faithfuls celebrate after a made basket by KG Canaleta. FIBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Following Mono Vampire's 100-108 loss against Alvark Tokyo earlier in the day, Meralco needed what seemed to be an improbable task of a rout of 11 points or more against defending FIBA Asia Champions Cup champion Al-Riyadi.

An even more unthinkable event happened.

Meralco stunned Al-Riyadi, 96-63, in the final game of the group stages at the Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand on Saturday night.

Once again engaging in a close start that saw Al-Riyadi take a 26-23 lead after the first quarter, Meralco came alive in the second quarter, limiting Al-Riyadi to just seven points to enter halftime ahead, 49-33.

The walloping continued in the second half as Meralco overachieved in its needed winning margin to join Tokyo in the semis.

Garvo Lanete and Diamond Stone each scored 20 points for Meralco, which will take on Petrochimi in the knockout semifinals on Monday night.

Bassel Bawji made 19 markers and six rebounds for Al-Riyadi, which has been relegated to the classification phase for fifth place in a game where Mark Lyons and Amir Saoud, the heroes in the Lebanese club's overtime win against Mono on Thursday, only made 14 and nine points respectively.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno