Jun 16, 2024

Bolts end 14 years of fruitless campaigns, rule Season 48 Philippine Cup

WITH a big shot from their top gun at endgame, the Meralco Bolts took down their giant rivals in the San Miguel Beermen and, at long last, ended their wait for a breakthrough championship before a big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.

The Bolts failed to beat the Beermen with their tremendous determination and hard work that had them leading the contest for over 47 minutes.

June Mar Fajardo tied the game with a booming three-pointer with 3.3 seconds left but then Chris Newsome bucked gnawing pressure and made the biggest basket of the series, knocking in a fall-away shot as the Bolts pulled off an 80-78 nerve-wracker to claim the PBA Season 48 Philippine Cup crown.

Newsome was struggling with a 3-of-16 field clip before delivering the dagger shot off defender Don Trollano and sending the Bolts to the mountaintop after 14 years of struggle, failures and heartaches.

The Gilas mainstay finished with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. And with his heroics in their Games One, Three and Four victories, the Fil-Am hotshot from Ateneo was rewarded with the Finals MVP award.

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But he shared the honors with his teammates who toiled with him every step of the way in overcoming their powerhouse rivals and foiling their shot at a season sweep.

First, Meralco denied San Miguel an 11-game sweep in the elims then came the Bolts' upset win in the finale, stripping the Beermen of the league's crown jewel.

Coach Jorge Gallent and his chargers were gunning for a season twin-kill after beating the Magnolia Hotshots for the Commissioner's Cup diadem.

But not to be denied were coach Luigi Trillo and the Bolts finally having their date with destiny.

Allein Maliksi, Chris Banchero, Bong Quinto, Raymond Almazan, Brandon Bates and Cliff Hodge also played key roles as the Bolts pulled through in their very first Philippine Cup finals.

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That came after going 0-of-4 in Governors' Cup finals all versus the Barangay Ginebra Kings.

On the threshold of the crown following their 92-88 escape in Game Five, the Bolts came out firing and defending, and seized control right at the get-go, taking the opening quarter at 29-18.

They stretched their lead to as many as 17 in the first half and stayed in command until botching a five-point lead in the last 29 seconds on a five-point binge by Fajardo, including the three-pointer that knotted the count at 78 with 3.3 ticks to go.

But Newsome, who was there in all of the Bolts' four previous losses in PBA Finals, won't let the team down.

He rescued the team from going through overtime as he came through with what was easily the biggest shot in the career that sent the Bolts and their followers to Dream Land. (SB)