by Jonas Terrado
Games Saturday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs NLEX
6:45 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Alaska
Meralco drew valuable contributions from import Gani Lawal and the backcourt tandem of Baser Amer and rookie Trevis Jackson to beat Columbian, 101-92, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lawal heeded to what coach Norman Black described as “sharing the wealth” and finished with 25 points and 27 rebounds while Amer and Jackson added 21 and 17 points as the Bolts recovered from a 94-91 overtime loss to Blackwater.
Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge also reached double figures with 12 and 10 points, much to Black’s liking after Lawal did most of the heavy lifting against the Elite.
“I thought our teamwork on offense with Gani not really dominating on the offensive end really helped us,” said Black.
Lawal went 11-of-16 from the field, a better percentage compared to his 16-of-36 clip in his debut the last time which gave Amer and Jackson a chance to shine.
Amer and Jackson, whose confidence has grown since the end of the Philippine Cup eliminations, each made six of 11 shots while combining for six rebounds and six assists in the victory.
Meralco led 50-35 at the half with Lawal scoring 15 and Jackson nine before building its biggest lead at 17 points, 62-45, on Chris Newsome’s basket with 8:38 left in the third.
Columbian got to within four, 85-81, on two free throws by import Kyle Barone with under seven minutes left in the fourth but Meralco was able to maintain its lead till the end.
Barone posted 26 points and 16 rebounds and rookie CJ Perez produced 22 points but the Dyip fell to a 0-2 slate.
MERALCO 101 – Lawal 25, Amer 21, Jackson 17, Newsome 12, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 5, Tolomia 4, Pinto 3, De Ocampo 2, Salva 2, Faundo 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0, Quinto 0.
COLUMBIAN 92 – Barone 26, Perez 22, McCarthy 13, Cahilig 11, Corpuz 11, Khobuntin 3, Agovida 3, Reyes 2, Calvo 1, Faundo 0, Camson 0, Celda 0, Escoto 0, Tabi 0.
Quarters: 23-18, 50-35, 79-71, 101-92.