Niño “KG” Canaleta shone with a spectacular clutch performance against his former team, as Meralco won 103-98 over Blackwater on Friday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
With the Elite pulling way in the last 33 seconds, 95-98, Canaleta nailed a crucial trey to establish a 101-95 cushion for the Bolts with only 11 seconds left in the game. He then sealed their opening game victory with two charities in the last 1.3 seconds.
“I like to give special mention to KG (Canaleta) who played exceptional tonight, scoring the basketball and also rebounding the basketball,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “He is going to be a very good addition to our team as well as Jason Ballesteros who made a good job rebounding the ball along with Jared Dillinger.”
Canaleta, who is playing for his ninth PBA team since 2005, tallied 25 points on 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc in addition to nine rebounds while Baser Amer added 17 points and 12 assists to lead the Bolts.
Forward Jared Dillinger had 15 points and 11 rebounds; Chris Newsome added 12 points while Jason Ballesteros contributed 12 rebounds also for Meralco.
Blackwater surprised Meralco in the early going of the game as Sumang hit a triple to put the Elite ahead, 39-27. But the Bolts tied the count to 44-all at halftime break.
The Bolts outscored the Elite in the third quarter, 33-22, to take a 77-66 lead at the start of fourth period.
Meralco crawled out of a 50-54 deficit in the third quarter with a 19-0 run capped by Newsome’s lay-up en route to a 69-54 lead with four minutes to go in the third frame. The Bolts even erected a 19 point lead, 90-71, in the last period behind Canaleta’s triple with still 8:23 left in the game.
The Elite closed the gap, 95-98, through the joint effort of Shej Roi Sumang and rookie Reymar Jose but Canaleta’s clutch performance saved the day for the Bolts.
Jose debuted with 16 points and six rebounds while Allein Maliksi also had 16 points to lead Blackwater.
MERALCO 103 – Canaleta 25, Amer 17, Dillinger 15, Newsome 12, Lanete 8, Ballesteros 6, Tolomia 6, Baracael 5, Faundo 4, Hugnatan 3, Caram 2, Salva 0.
BLACKWATER 98 – Jose 16, Maliksi 16, Sumang 15, Belo 13, Erram 11, Cortez 8, Digregorio 6, Javier 6, Sena 4, Pinto 3, Banal 0, Cruz 0, Marcelo 0.
Quarters: 23-27, 44-44, 66-77, 103-98.