The Ryukyu Kings Dominate Meralco; TNT Continues Winless Streak
Sister PBA teams Meralco and TNT took different stumbles on the East Asia Super League (EASL) road late Wednesday night to remain winless, with the Bolts taking a huge beating at the hands of Japan B.League powerhouse Ryukyu Golden Kings and former import Allen Durham.
The Golden Kings shut down the Bolts in the second half on the way to an 89-61 victory in Okinawa, Japan, while the Tropang Giga dropped to a 0-3 record despite brilliant performances from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Quincy Miller after a 106-97 setback to the Taipei Fubon Braves in Chinese Taipei.
Meralco played just one import in Prince Ibeh against a Ryukyu side that paraded Jack Cooley and Durham at the Okinawa Arena.
The Bolts were in the game until midway in the second quarter when the reigning B.League champions unloaded a 20-6 run to break free from a 28-28 deadlock and take a 48-34 lead at the break.
Top gunner Keita Imamura led Ryukyu with 19 points, Cooley added 12 and eight rebounds, while Durham had another splendid all-around game of 16 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, numbers which he used to provide Meralco in four PBA stints.
Macau stop next
Former Gilas Pilipinas member Carl Tamayo finished with seven points for Ryukyu, which raised its record to 2-1 in Group B.
Chris Newsome came through with 11 points, while Ibeh had 10 and nine rebounds for Meralco, which even led, 24-17, early in the second period.
The two sides meet again on Dec. 13 at the integrated resort Studio City in Macau in a special road game sponsored by Melco Resorts and Entertainment.
Meanwhile, Hollis-Jefferson and Miller combined for 67 points, but the short-handed Tropang Giga succumbed in the stretch.
Back after a bout with gastroenteritis that made him miss the Nov. 1 game against the Chiba Jets, Hollis-Jefferson knocked in 33 points, including the jumper that made it a 91-88 contest with 5:46 left to play.
But the Braves, the reigning P.League+ champions, answered with a 9-0 blast behind Chris Anthony Johnson and former PBA import Mike Singletary to push the lead to 12 entering the final two minutes.