SMART Clark Giga City - Meralco and its no-quit attitude prevailed over Barangay Ginebra and its never-say-die mantra in the second night of their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four face-off.
Facing the dim prospect of falling 0-2 down in the race-to-three series, the Bolts came alive in the third period, completed a big 95-77 fightback win and thus instead sent the series back to scratch.
The Bolts and the Kings break the standoff in the pivotal Game Three Sunday at the AUF Sports Center Powered by Smart 5G.
"We just talked about the reality that we could not go down 0-2 in the series. We would not have a chance to come back from that deficit against Ginebra," said Meralco coach Norman Black.
"We made a few adjustments and the guys executed very well. We had a lot more balance in this game, with a lot of guys scoring. That gave us a big lift," Black added.
Chris Newsome started it all in the third quarter and his teammates later helped fuel their onslaught to upstage the Kings and prevent them from moving within a win of a crack at the bubble glory.
"We knew we had to come out with a lot of energy than the first game. Lots of guys came out and stepped up," said Newsome who led the Bolts with 16 points that went with six assists, four rebounds and one steal.
Raymond Almazan played what's easily his best game in the tourney with 11 markers and the same number of rebounds, Allein Maliksi delivered 14 markers in a gem of a job off the bench while Cliff Hodge and Bong Quinto also proved to be lethal weapons with their double-digit productions.
But the Bolts went through a long anxious moment before hitting their strides.
LA Tenorio went 4-of-6 from the arc, leading the Kings as they took the early initiative and led by eight, 50-42, at the half.
But then the Bolts pressed harder on defense, keying their turnaround that saw them grab the lead, 65-61, going to the final canto.
And there's simply no stopping the Bolts from taking the series-tying win. (SB)
MERALCO 95 - Newsome 16, Quinto 14, Maliksi 14, Hodge 12, Almazan 11, Amer 10, Hugnatan 9, Pinto 3, Black 2, Caram 2, Jamito 2, Faundo 0, Jose 0, Salva 0.
BARANGAY GINEBRA 77 - Aguilar 17, Tenorio 16, Thompson 10, Tolentino 9, Pringle 9, Caperal 6, Salado 4, Mariano 4 , Caguioa 2, Dela Cruz 0, Dillinger 0, Devance 0, Balanza 0.
Quarters: 23-27; 42-50; 65-61; 95-77.