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Meralco, TNT bow to Ryukyu Golden Kings, Taipei Fubon Braves in EASL

MANILA, Philippines, November 16 ------ The Meralco Bolts opened their East Asia Super League (EASL) campaign in Group B on the wrong foot as they fell to the defending Japan B. League champion Ryukyu Golden Kings, 89-61, at the Okinawa Arena in Japan. With Meralco playing without its current PBA Commissioner’s Cup import Suleiman Braimoh due to visa issues, Ryukyu reinforcement Allen Durham imposed his will over his former team with an all-around stat line of 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.

The three-time PBA Best Import Durham, who led the Bolts to three finals appearances in the Governors’ Cup, went 2-of-4 from the two-point area and shot a perfect 3-of-3 clip from beyond the arc en-route to his 16-point output, together with a game-high +/- of +24. Keita Imamura also finished with 16 points for the Golden Kings, while their Asian import and former UP Fighting Maroons standout Carl Tamayo chipped in 7 points on 3-of-4 field goal clip, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block in 17 minutes of action off the bench. Chris Newsome paced Meralco in the loss with 11 points, while former NorthPort Batang Pier import Prince Ibeh and Cliff Hodge added 10 markers apiece.

The Bolts got off to a good start and led the Golden Kings, 21-17, at the end of the opening period, before the hosts unleashed a 31-13 scoring barrage in the second frame for a 48-34 halftime cushion. It was all Ryukyu from that point on as it even pushed its lead to its largest at 29 points, 67-38, off a Ryuichi Kishimoto triple at the 3:05 mark of the third quarter. Like Durham, Kishimoto also nailed all his three attempts from beyond the arc to wind up with 9 points.

Meralco will look to bounce back when it visits former NBA star Jeremy Lin and his New Taipei Kings on November 29 at the New Taipei Xinzhuang Gymnasium in Taiwan. The Bolts will then have another crack at the Golden Kings on December 13 at the Studio City Event Center in Macau. Over at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium in Taiwan, the TNT Tropang Giga dropped to 0-3 in Group A following a 106-97 loss to the three-time defending P. League+ champion Taipei Fubon Braves.

Despite having Rondae Hollis-Jefferson back in the fold, together with their second EASL import Quincy Miller, the Tropang Giga failed to get past the Fubon Braves, who were led by their own reinforcements Chris Johnson, Mike Singletary, and Filipino-American guard Sedrick Barefield. The three Fubon Braves imports all breached the 20-point territory, with Johnson exploding for a team-best 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

The former PBA import Singletary posted a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Barefield chalked up 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. TNT, likewise, relied heavily on Miller and Hollis-Jefferson, who combined for 67 of the Tropang Giga’s 97 points. Miller erupted for a game-high 34 points and 10 rebounds, while Hollis-Jefferson dropped 33 markers, 5 boards and 9 assists.

Calvin Oftana was the third Tropang Giga player to score in double figures with 14 points on 4-of-8 clip from long distance. TNT hopes to finally enter the win column when it faces Rhenz Abando and the reigning Korean Basketball League champion Anyang Jung Kwan Jang Red Boosters on December 6 at the Anyang Gymnasium in Korea.



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