Meralco Bolts seize Game 3 victory, take 2-1 lead over San Miguel Beermen

The Meralco Bolts are two wins away from a historic championship after a thrilling 93-89 escape act against the San Miguel Beermen in Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Chris Newsome emerged as the hero for Meralco, overcoming a slow start to deliver a game-winning performance. He erupted for 20 of his 26 points in the crucial second half, including a clutch three-pointer and two game-sealing free throws in the dying seconds. This personal 5-0 run secured a 2-1 series lead for the Bolts and reignited their championship aspirations.

The Bolts’ suffocating defense played a pivotal role in their victory. They clamped down on the San Miguel offense in the final 10 seconds, forcing them to miss their last three shots and preventing them from surpassing the 90-point mark for the second time in the series.

Raymond Almazan deserves special recognition for his defensive prowess, effectively limiting the scoring opportunities of seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.

Almazan wasn’t just a defensive stalwart; he also contributed significantly on the offensive end. He finished the game with a well-rounded stat line of 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks. His hustle and energy on both sides of the court were instrumental in Meralco’s win.

Bong Quinto added 16 points and 6 rebounds.

While Mo Tautuaa and CJ Perez led the Beermen’s scoring with 19 and 18 points respectively, San Miguel encountered difficulties in finding their offensive rhythm, with Perez notably struggling with his shooting accuracy. Additionally, Fajardo, though a dominant force in the league, faced formidable defense and struggled to make a significant impact on the game.

Fajardo had an uncharacteristically off night. He was plagued by early foul trouble, limiting his offensive output to a meager 12 points on poor shooting. The Bolts capitalized on this opportunity, effectively containing him in the paint.

With this victory, Meralco finds itself with a commanding 2-1 series lead. However, the San Miguel Beermen are a seasoned team known for their resilience. They will undoubtedly regroup and come out stronger in Game 4, which is scheduled for Wednesday at the same venue.

The PBA Philippine Cup Finals promise to be a nail-biting series, with each game holding the potential for last-second heroics and dramatic finishes.