Black breaks out of slump as Meralco sinks Rain or Shine

Aaron Black broke out of his personal slump to help Meralco snap its two-game slide with a 77-73 victory over Rain or Shine in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, July 6, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Aaron Black (PBA Images)

After struggling in the past two games — even going scoreless in the Bolts’ 90-89 loss to Blackwater Bossing — Black bounced back with 20 points built on four triples, including a huge three-pointer he buried with 39 seconds left which gave Meralco enough cushion to weather a late Elasto Painters rally and list their fourth win in seven games.

Allein Maliksi provided support with 19 points spiked by four triples while Raymond Almazan finished with 10 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.

Cliff Hodge added 10 points and eight rebounds while Chris Newsome, after missing his first 10 shots in the first three quarters, provided the Bolts a huge lift with seven points in the fourth quarter points to give Luigi Trillo a winning return at the helm after taking over the coaching role from Norman Black who is in the US to attend to his ailing mother. Also missing was Ronnie Magsanoc who is in Singapore for the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup.

“It’s hard for us, we just all have to help each other and stay positive, coach (Norman) is not there, coach Ronnie obviously is with our 3×3 team and Banchero is also not there he’s also out,” said Trillo who last held a coaching task in the PBA eight years ago back with the now defunct Alaska franchise

“I’m just proud of everyone. It’s been eight years for me so I’m also not in my flow but players chipped in, they were vocal, I let them talk before the game and the coaching staff just helped each other out,” he added.

Gabe Norwood showed the way for the Elasto Painters with 13 points while Mike Nieto added 12 but were not enough as the team’s playoff hopes go dim after absorbing its sixth-straight loss in seven games.

Rain or Shine actually looked poised to turn its fortune around after taking a one-point lead, 58-57, early in the final frame. Almazan however anchored a huge 10-0 spurt for the Bolts with three straight blocks while Black took care of the offense, triggering the telling run with a right corner triple.

Meralco built a comfortable 67-58 lead halfway through the final frame but Rain or Shine behind the efforts of Nieto, Rey Nambatac and Beau Belga managed to cut the deficit to just three, 73-70, with 1:02 remaining in the clock.

That, however, only set the table for Black’s heroics before the Bolts banked on their defense in the final possession to take the win.

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