PBA: Almazan plays clutch as Meralco downs Magnolia
Mark Escarlote on Sep 21, 2019 09:40 PM
Meralco kept Magnolia scoreless in the last five minutes to escape with an opening day win.
Raymond Almazan delivered at crunch time to tow Meralco to a 98-92 win over reigning champion Magnolia on Saturday in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Big Dome.
The Bolts forward played the hero’s role in the last two and a half minutes of the ballgame, sinking the go-ahead triple and pouring 12 of his 19 points in the fourth period.
Almazan broke a 92-92 deadlock with a trey with 2:27 remaining and added a split from the foul line to spark Meralco’s closing 6-0 run.
“It's a good start to the conference for us. It's a very, very satisfying win because we know we're going up against the defending champions,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “We also knew they're a very good defensive team and we had to play good defense to be able to beat them.”
Chris Newsome finished with a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds while import Allen Durham flirted with a triple-double with 21 markers, 14 boards and eight assists for Meralco.
Almazan had 19 points, 13 rebounds and a crucial block on Mark Barroca’s layup in the last 17 seconds to crush the Hotshots’ desperate attempt to salvage the game.
Meralco stated off slow and trailed, 33-49, in the second quarter before coming back in the second half.
Ian Sangalang gave Magnolia its last taste of the lead 92-86, off a jumper with 4:40 left before Meralco answered with a 12-point swing.
“I thought our defense really kicked in in the fourth quarter,” said Black. “We were able to slow them down and stop them on a lot of plays that made a lot of difference in the game.”
Romeo Travis had 22 markers and nine rebounds while Paul Lee had 20 for the Hotshots. Barroca finished with 18 and Peter June Simon got 12 for Magnolia.
Meralco (98) -- Newsome 22, Durham 11; Almazan 19, Pinto 9, Faundo 8, Amer 7, Salva 4, Quinto 3, Hugnatan 3, Caram 2.
Magnolia (92) -- Travis 22, Lee 20, Barroca 18, Simon 12, Sangalang 11, Pingris 4, Melton 3, Jalalon 2, Reavis 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarters: 27-30, 48-57, 73-75, 98-92