Meralco sprang back strong from its loss to San Miguel Beer the last time and ended Alaska Milk’s perfect run in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a dominant 99-91 win in their Petron Blaze Saturday showdown at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
The Bolts scrapped and gutted it out with their fellow defense-oriented rivals, dealing the Aces the setback that left the Star Hotshots (4-0) and the San Miguel Beermen as the two remaining unbeaten teams in the mid-season tourney.
Meralco gave Alaska a dose of its medicine, employing a lockdown defense in handing the Aces a first loss in five outings.
The Bolts moved up to third place ahead of the Aces with a 5-1 card.
Stepheson and the Bolts completed a near coast-to-coast win, leading by as many as 25 before wrapping up the game.
The Meralco import finished with 26 rebounds and 17 points while Baser Amer stood out among the locals with 19 markers, nine boards, five assists and two steals in a sterling all-around performance.
Jefferson led the losing team with 32 points and 13 rebounds.
The whole Meralco team put up a great defensive job to break the game wide open right in the first half.
With a good job in getting the rebounds, the Bolts took the half at 50-35 largely behind a crucial 17-5 advantage on second-chance points.
Justin Chua had a solid first half where he rattled in 14 markers. Stepheson had 13 rebounds and six points while Amer had nine markers and six boards at the turn.
The Bolts imposed themselves early on the Aces, leading by eight, 27-19, in the opening quarter.