Meralco Bolts rally to beat Japan’s Ryukyu Golden Kings in Macau

Meralco Bolts rally to beat Japan’s Ryukyu Golden Kings in Macau

MACAU — Energized by the roaring predominantly-Pinoy crowd, gritty Meralco produced a memorable breakthrough for Philippine clubs in the East Asia Super League (EASL).

Channeling the Gilas Pilipinas “puso” in this home-away-from-home gig, the The Meralco Bolts rallied to a 97-88 overtime win over Japan’s Ryukyu Golden Kings Wednesday night at the Studio City Event Center here.

Chris Newsome led Meralco’s resolute effort to turn the game around after the Japanese champs repeatedly threatened to blow by.

Down by four with 14.6 seconds left in regulation, Mr. Newsome knocked down a big-time corner triple with a foul to boot on Shota Onodera to send the audience into frenzy.  He cashed in on the freebie to knot the count at 80-80 then Meralco stopped Kings import Vic Law from draining the winner.

Momentum on their side, Mr. Newsome and import Zach Lofton spearheaded a 12-3 bomb in extra time en route to the Bolts’ first win after a 0-2 start.

Luigi Trillo’s charges not only avenged their 89-61 setback to the Kings in Okinawa last Nov. 15 but also ended the EASL losing spell of Pinoy teams.

Prior to the W, Meralco and fellow PBA sides TNT and San Miguel had lost a combined 10 matches in the EASL’s 2023-24 regular season as well as the Champions Week in March.

“It was a roller-coaster ride. When you’re down and your back’s against the wall, it’s always hard to come back but we showed a lot of grit, a lot of heart,” said Mr. Newsome, who scored 27 to back up Mr. Lofton’s 35.

After the final buzzer, kababayans happily trooped to centercourt to celebrate with the Bolts. “It’s nice to see them and for us to be able to bring our favorite sport here to them, who are away from families and homes, and get the win for them, I know it means a lot to them,” said Mr. Newsome.

“This is definitely a big win not just for Filipinos here but in the homeland. We wanted to show the heart and dedication Filipinos have for the  game.”

Mr. Law shot 27 to lead the Kings (2-2), who played without former Meralco reinforcement Allen Durham and Pinoy Carl Tamayo. — Olmin Leyba

The Scores:

Meralco 97 — Lofton 35, Newsome 27, Ibeh 15, Hodge 6, Almazan 5, Maliksi 5, Dario 2, Banchero 2, Quinto 0, Rios 0, Bates 0, Torres 0,

Ryukyu 88 — Law 27, Imamura 19, Kishimoto 15, Cooley 10, Onodera 9, Tashiro 4, Maki 2, Watanabe 2, Uematsu 0, Arakawa 0, Matsuwaki 0.

Quarterscores: 17-21; 38-37; 57-57; 80-80, 97-88.