By JONAS TERRADO
Chris Newsome scored on a layup at the buzzer as Meralco pulled off the unthinkable by erasing a 13-point deficit with two minutes left to shock erstwhile unbeaten Magnolia, 95-94, in the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Newsome drove past Rome dela Rosa after receiving Mac Belo’s inbound pass with 4.3 seconds left before finding the open space that allowed him to convert the layup using his left hand that completed an incredible victory for the Bolts.
Meralco players celebrate the result that looked very unlikely when Magnolia stretched its lead to 93-80 with exactly two minutes remaining.
“It was a big win because we seemed to be a little bit dead on the water tonight,” said coach Norman Black after the victory allowed the Bolts to move second in the team standings with a 5-1 record.
Magnolia absorbed its first defeat of the conference and fell to third at 4-1, putting TNT, a 96-76 winner over Blackwater earlier in the day, on top with its perfect 4-0 slate.
Newsome finished with 14 points, the last five coming during Meralco’s late escape.
The Bolts were able to narrow the gap by forcing the Hotshots into turnovers behind their pressure defense, including one when Newsome and John Pinto forced Jio Jalalon to lose possession of the ball.
Jalalon’s turnover set up Newsome’s three that put Meralco behind 94-93. The Bolts got another break when Mark Barroca’s corner triple was nullified after a video review showed that the Hotshots guard failed to beat the shot clock.
That set the stage for Newsome’s heroics and deal Magnolia a heartbreaking defeat.
Belo topscored for Meralco with 22 points, Cliff Hodge produced 18 and Reynel Hugnatan added 15.
Magnolia’s setback spoiled the efforts of Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva.
Lee scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half while Abueva already had a double-double by halftime and went on to finish with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Ian Sangalang’s two foul shots gave that 93-80 lead but Magnolia scored just one point down the stretch.
Sangalang would have scored with 1:25 and put the Hotshots ahead 95-83 but Abueva touched the ring and was whistled for an offensive goaltending.
MERALCO 95 — Belo 22, Hodge 18, Hugnatan 15, Newsome 14, Maliksi 11, Black 6, Almazan 4, Pasaol 3, Quinto 2, Pinto 0, Jackson 0.
MAGNOLIA 94 — Lee 21, Abueva 18, Jalalon 12, Sangalang 10, Barroca 8, Dela Rosa 8, Corpuz 8, Ahanmisi 5, Reavis 2, Dionisio 2, Melton 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 17-22, 39-50, 66-71, 95-94.