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Meralco spoils Robert Bolick's 48-point blast, nips NLEX to open PBA PH Cup QFs

Allein Maliksi led Meralco in spoiling Robert Bolick's explosion. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI—Meralco survived an explosion from Robert Bolick and took down NLEX, 97-93, at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Despite conceding 48 points from Bolick, the Bolts tightened up their defense on him down the stretch as the Road Warriors lost steam in the end.

After Bolick scored on a floater that gave NLEX its last taste of the lead at 93-92 with 1:05 remaining, Allein Maliksi scored two free throws off a Richie Rodgers foul to put Meralco back up, 94-93, with 45.7 seconds left.

The Bolts' defense then forced Bolick to find Mike Miranda for a mid-range jumper that he missed, but Chris Newsome settled for a split from the foul line as they held to a 95-93 cushion with 26.4 seconds to go.

Cliff Hodge then took his turn in guarding Bolick, and he was successful in not giving him a shot even as Meralco forced a turnover with 13.5 seconds left.

Maliksi iced the game with two free throws with nine seconds to go.

Maliksi led the Bolts, who can clinch the best-of-three series on Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila, with 22 points, four rebounds, and one assist off the bench.

Raymond Almazan added 15 points, six rebounds, and one block.

Bolick went 12-for-25 from the field and 18-for-19 from the charity stripe for his points even as he added four rebounds and five assists for the Road Warriors, who need to win on Sunday night to force a Game 3.

The Scores:

MERALCO 97 – Maliksi 22, Almazan 15, Caram 14, Newsome 12, Banchero 12, Quinto 11, Bates 4, Torres 3, Hodge 2, Pasaol 2, Dario 0

NLEX 93 – Bolick 48, Miranda 14, Rodger 6, Herndon 6, Nieto 5, Semerad 5, Fajardo 4, Marcelo 2, Valdez 2, Amer 1, Anthony 0

QUARTERS: 23-28, 44-54, 73-75, 97-93 

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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