Meralco dominates NLEX to set a highly-anticipated PBA semis clash with Ginebra

Chris Banchero’s scoring spree lifts Meralco against NLEX (PBA)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Meralco Bolts put an end to the NLEX Road Warriors’ playoff hopes after eliminating them in Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals, 100-81, on May 12, 2024, at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

After a tightly-contested Game 1 win, Meralco finally got past their slow start hump and dominated the Road Warriors in all the four quarters to score the wire-to-wire victory.

Chris Banchero played his best game of the ongoing PBA Playoffs so far after leading the Bolts with 23 big points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

It was Banchero who spearheaded Meralco’s momentum-shifting offensive rally in the third quarter, embarrassing the NLEX perimeter defense with his relentless drives to the shaded lane for some easy deuces.

Banchero also had an efficient shooting night from the perimeter, knocking down back-to-back mid-range jump shots that ballooned Meralco’s advantage to as much as 22 points.

Aside from Banchero, Meralco’s signature balanced attack fueled their lopsided second-half performance with Allein Maliksi, Cliff Hodge, Bong Quinto, Chris Newsome, and Raymond Almazan all reaching double figures in scoring.

Maliksi and Hodge each scored 14 points apiece while Quinto, Newsome, and Almazan contributed 13, 12, and 10 points, respectively.

On the other hand, Best Player of the Conference nominee Robert Bolick led the way for the Road Warriors with 18 points but the Meralco mayhem attack proved to be just too much for them.

With the series win over NLEX, Meralco will next be facing the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings in the semifinals of the Philippine Cup.

“It’s always a challenge with that. We know we have our hands full. We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board as a coaching staff. We’re excited,” said Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo.

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