Meralco grounds San Miguel to take Game 1 of the PBA Finals

Meralco takes Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals (PBA)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Meralco Bolts banked on an inspired second-half performance to overcome an early double-digit deficit, 93-86, and snatched Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup grand finals over the San Miguel Beermen on June 5, 2024, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

After trailing by 10 points in the first half, the Bolts flipped the switch at the start of the third quarter to regain the momentum of the game.

With their much-improved defense in the perimeter and better coverage on June Mar Fajardo, Meralco was able to kick off the third with a blitzing 9-0 run that helped them retake the lead off a Bong Quinto three-pointer, 53-51.

Meralco then went toe-to-toe with San Miguel for the rest of the game and didn’t run out of firepower as their personnel up to the bench delivered in so many ways.

However, the Beermen found a way to strike back, thanks to a valiant effort from CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter that helped them get back into the driver’s seat with a 75-72 lead in the 10:38 mark of the fourth.

Just when San Miguel thought they could rely their offense on Fajardo’s quick kickout passes, the Bolts communicated well on the defensive end to cover the gaps and stepped on the gas pedal in their offensive executions.

As a result of their efficient two-way effort in the final frame, the Bolts threw haymaker after haymaker on San Miguel and protected their lead until the final buzzer.

In the final five minutes of the ball game, Chris Newsome, Chris Banchero, Allein Maliksi, and Brandon Bates joined hands to put San Miguel away with their collective offensive distribution.

The dynamic duo of Newsome and Banchero spearheaded Meralco’s Game 1 win with 18 points each while Maliksi delivered 15 crucial markers.

Meanwhile, Bates anchored Meralco’s interior on a high note, finishing with four huge blocks and four rebounds.

On the other hand, the Beermen were led by Fajardo’s 23 points but he was only limited to 10 attempts, one of his lowest shooting attempts in any of his PBA finals trips.

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