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Bolts regain series lead

MANILA, Philippines — Quickly rebounding from their Game 2 fumble, the Meralco Bolts eked out a 93-89 nail-biter over the San Miguel Beermen to take the driver’s seat anew in the PBA Philippine Cup finals at 2-1 last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

If their finishing in the previous match was a flop, the Bolts made good this time with Chris Newsome taking charge.

Newsome knocked down a booming corner triple for the go-ahead, 91-89,  then added two dagger free throws with 11.3 seconds left to seal Meralco’s pull-around after Friday’s 94-95 loss marred by a blown four-point lead in the last 25.6 seconds.

“That’s a tough loss for us, especially in the situation that we’re in. But that goes to show that you can’t let your guard down at any point during this series,” said Newsome, who fired nine of his 26 points in winning time.

“For us to get the win today, it’s great but we know there’s so much that we have to do, there’s so many mistakes (to correct moving forward),” he added.

The gritty Bolts, who drew first blood in the best-of-seven duel, 93-86, will try to get on the hill at 3-1 and back the defending champions to a corner in Game 4 on Wednesday.

SMB actually threatened to make it two in a row as it seized an 89-88 margin on June Mar Fajardo’s foul throws going to the last 51.9 ticks.

But then “Awesome Newsome” stepped up to the plate and scored the game’s last five points. The Bolts then completed the job with big defensive stops in the end, where Marcio Lassiter and Fajardo failed to get buckets anymore.

Raymond Almazan (17 points, 13 rebounds), Bong Quinto (16 markers), Chris Banchero (10 points, six rebounds and six assists) and Cliff Hodge (10-13) also made significant contributions for coach Luigi Trillo’s resilient troops.

Mo Tautuaa, stepping up with Fajardo in foul trouble, topscored for SMB with 19 on an 8-of-12 clip. CJ Perez shot 19 while Lassiter added 12 and Fajardo had another double-double at 12-15.