Meralco banks on first-half surge to take a 2-1 series advantage over Ginebra

Allein Maliksi was in the zone against the Gin Kings (PBA)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Meralco Bolts relied on their hot start to beat the Ginebra San Miguel in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal duel, 87-80, to grab a much-needed 2-1 series advantage on May 22, 2024, at the Dasmariñas City Arena.

Fueled by a waxing-hot Allein Maliksi who torched the Gin Kings in the first quarter with three quick three-pointers, the Bolts then never looked back and scored the wire-to-wire win on the road.

Maliksi, one of the veteran scorers in the balanced Meralco squad, set the tone for the Bolts after going unconscious from the shooting field in the first 12 minutes of action.

His early double-digit scoring contribution steered Meralco to a 31-18 lead, a huge thing that the Bolts used to maintain their gap despite a counter rally from the Gin Kings.

Meralco led by as much as 17 points and were finding the mismatches at the post that favored them. In the closing minutes of the second and the start of the third, the Bolts imposed their will underneath and exposed Ginebra’s smaller guards in the shaded lane.

Aside from their efficient post plays, the Bolts’ offensive rebounding was also a key to their Game 3 win which gave them tons of second-chance points in the whole game.

After Meralco maintained its tenacity until the final frame, Ginebra head coach Tim Cone pulled all of his starters with still four minutes remaining in the game.

Just when the Bolts though they could pull away easily, the Ginebra bench mob was able to keep things interesting as Von Pessumal, LA Tenorio, and Nards Pinto fired bombs from downtown that trimmed their deficit to just five points.

However, time wasn’t on their side as they made their late push with only 1:30 remaining in the game and the Bolts up by a huge margin.

Maliksi top-scored for Meralco with 16 big points while Chris Newsome stuffed the stat sheets with 14 markers, six assists, and five rebounds.

On the other hand, the Gin Kings received an efficient 15-point production from Japeth Aguilar including nine rebounds but his near double-double performance wasn’t enough to help Ginebra nab the series lead against Meralco.