PBA: Meralco hangs on to beat Ginebra for 2-1 semis lead

SCHEDULE: 2024 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals

Meralco Bolts' Allein Maliksi in a PBA Philippine Cup semifinals game against Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings

Meralco Bolts’ Allein Maliksi in a PBA Philippine Cup semifinals game against Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. –PBA IMAGES

DASMARINAS, Cavite—Meralco leaned on an early blitz to repeat over Barangay Ginebra, 87-80, for a 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series Wednesday at City of Dasmarinas Arena here.

Allein Maliksi fired 11 of his 16 points in the first quarter where the Bolts set the tone and gained the driver seat for the first time in the best-of-seven series after dropping the series opener.

Chris Newsome had 14 points, four rebounds and six assists and Bong Quinto added 10 for Meralco, which led by 17 and did not allow Ginebra to string a comeback in the previous two matches.

READ: PBA: Chris Newsome channels inner Kobe in Meralco series vs Ginebra

Ginebra did manage to cut it to five in the final seconds with both teams already using their second unit, but Meralco showed no signs of committing a major letdown.

Game 4 is set Friday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City where the Bolts will try to gain a commanding 3-1 lead.

Japeth Aguilar posted 15 points and nine rebounds but Ginebra once again had to play reactive to Meralco’s attack right from the onset.

READ: PBA: Tim Cone needs time figuring out Meralco’s game plan

Christian Standhardinger could only put up 10 points and 10 rebounds after a career-high 41 in Game 2.

Meralco finished the opening period strong to lead Ginebra, 31-18, before carrying its strong form throughout the contest, much to the chagrin of Gin Kings coach Tim Cone.

PBA scores:

MERALCO 87—Maliksi 16, Newsome 14, Quinto 10, Banchero 9, Hodge 9, Almazan 8, Caram 6, Bates 6, Torres 3, Pascual 2, Rios 2, Dario 2, Mendoza 0, Pasaol 0.

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GINEBRA 80—J.Aguilar 15, Ahanmisi 13, Standhardinger 10, Tenorio 9, Thompson 8, Pinto 6, Cu 5, Pessumal 5, Pringle 4, Onwubere 3, R.Aguilar 2, Murrell 0.

Quarters: 31-18, 48-34, 72-59, 87-80.