|Bong Quinto stepped up for the undermanned Bolts. PBA Images|
MANILA—Meralco made a triumphant return to PBA Philippine Cup action after a full week off with a 95-83 victory over Terrafirma on Thursday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Despite missing Chris Newsome, Cliff Hodge, Toto Jose, and even the assistant coaches and Team Manager Paolo Trillo, who remained under the league's health and safety protocols, the Bolts, who also lost Aaron Black early on after hurting his hand, still managed to take down the Dyip, who were aiming for survival.
Meralco kept Terrafirma at bay in the first quarter, holding them to just 19 points, but the latter responded with a 30-point second quarter as the first half ended with a 50-49 lead by the former.
Both teams stayed in step for most of the third quarter, but the Bolts pulled away for good in the fourth after limiting the Dyip to just 13 points.
Bong Quinto made 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and one steal to top-score for Meralco, which moved up to 6-2, a half-game ahead of Magnolia for the second spot.
Anjo Caram added 13 point on 5-of-6 shooting, one rebound, five assists, and three steals for the Bolts, who can formally seal a spot in the quarterfinals with a win over the Blackwater Bossing on Saturday.
Aldrech Ramos made 15 markers, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal, while Joseph Gabayni added 14 points, 10 rebounds, and one block for Terrafirma, which fell to its third straight loss and to 3-7 overall in the conference.
MERALCO 95 — Quinto 17, Caram 13, Maliksi 12, Almazan 11, Hugnatan 10, Pasaol 10, Belo 9, Jackson 5, Pinto 4, Jamito 2, Baclao 2, Black 0.
TERRAFIRMA 83 — Ramos 15, Gabayni 14, Tiongson 10, Celda 10, Batiller 9, Calvo 9, Camson 6, McCarthy 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Adams 2.
Quarters: 25-19, 50-49, 73-70, 95-83.
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