GANI Lawal was more trusting and his local teammates were all too obliging, leading to Meralco's 101-92 victory over Columbian Friday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lawal scored 25 points on just 16 shots, 20 less than in his initial game, while fellow starters Baser Amer, Trevis Jackson, Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge all finished in double figures as the Bolts completed the wire-to-wire win.
Meralco coach Norman Black was obviously pleased with his team's bounce-back performance from a sorry 91-94 overtime loss to Blackwater last Sunday, when only Mike Tolomia was the lone other double-digit scorer other than Lawal.
"Today we did a lot better, offensively and defensively," said Black.
"I thought our teamwork on offense, particularly with Gani... He did not really dominate the offense so much this time, but with everybody sharing the basketball and everybody being part of the offense really helped us in this game.
"That's something we hope to do in our future games, share the wealth, so to say, so everybody can get involved."
Black also said Lawal's turnaround was the product of a chat he had with his import.
"I think I was able to convince Gani that he does have decent outside shooters so when he gets doubble-teamed or triple-teamed inside the post he can just move the ball out and his teammates will help him win the game," related Black.
"Hats off to Gani for playing much better team ball tonight."
Lawal also finished with 27 rebounds, helping Meralco emerge with a whopping 63-47 advantage off the boards.
"Also, on the other end, he did a great job controlling the rebounds. He got 18 rebounds in the half so that's something we really need this conference."
The loss was Columbian's second straight despite Kyle Barone notching 26 points and 16 rebounds and CJ Perez adding 22 markers.
Even Rashawn McCarthy found his touch starting in the third period to finish with 13 points and Jackson Corpuz and Andreas Cahilig chipping in 11 points each.
But all their efforts went for naught as Meralco dominated from the get-go and even built up a lead that reached 65-48, off Jackson's triple, 7:48 to go in the third quarter.
The Dyip mustered one surge to trim their deficit to just 81-85, but Hodge's jumper that trickled in and Amer's corner triple effectively laid down the trend for the remaining 5:24 of the game.
Amer wound up with 21 points anchored on five triples, one more than Jackson who scored 17. Newsome added 12 points and seven rebounds while Hodge 10 and six.
"My locals played really really well today, particularly my guards," noted Black. "All three of my starting guards played well, led by Baser Amer and Trevis Jackson. Newsome also played well defensively.
"So good team victory for us today, something we could build on." (NC)
Meralco 101 - Lawal 25, Amer 21, Jackson 17, Newsome 12, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 5, Tolomia 4, Pinto 3, De Ocampo 2, Salva 2, Faundo 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0, Quinto 0.
Columbian 92 - Barone 26, Perez 22, McCarthy 13, Cahilig 11, Corpuz 11, Khobuntin 3, Agovida 3, Reyes 2, Calvo 1, Faundo 0, Camson 0, Celda 0, Escoto 0, Tabi 0.
Quarterscores: 23-18, 50-35, 79-71, 101-92.