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Meralco head coach Norman Black reacts to a call. PBA Media Bureau

Just like it did last conference, Meralco was able to get the better of Star as the Bolts pulled off a 90-86 triumph on opening day of the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.

While Meralco coach Norman Black was happy to get their first win in this early part of the tournament, he’s hoping for much more than just that for his team.

“I hope we’ll beat more than just Star,” said Black. “That’s what exactly Jason Webb said to me as I was walking towards him. Hopefully we’ll be able to get more than one win this conference. I think we will.”

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Blazers PG Damian Lillard added to U.S. Olympic hoops roster pool (February 11, 2016)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]


Portland guard Damian Lillard has been added to the U.S. national basketball team pool, giving the Americans 31 players for 12 spots.

Lillard fell just short of a place on the 2014 World Cup of Basketball roster and wasn't among the original 30 candidates for Rio de Janeiro announced last month. But he called USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo recently and said he wanted to remain involved in the program.

Colangelo said in a statement Wednesday that he and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski feel Lillard is "playing at a very high level" and deserves a spot among the Olympic finalists.

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Marc Pingris battling Meralco import Arinze Onuaku for the rebound. PBA Media Bureau

For four seasons, Tim Cone led the old Purefoods franchise – now known as the Star Hotshots – to great success, winning five championships as well as achieving a rare Grand Slam in 2014.

He was able to bring out the best in his players, especially the team’s veterans like James Yap, Marc Pingris and Peter June Simon.

Now that Cone’s moved to Barangay Ginebra, Star’s defensive ace Pingris admitted he’s struggling to find his bearings without the man that has served as a guiding presence in his playing career.

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Denzel Bowles with an unmolested dunk. PBA Media Bureau

In the first game of his fourth tour of duty with the old Purefoods franchise in the PBA, Denzel Bowles had a quiet 20 points as the Star Hotshots lost to the Meralco Bolts on opening day of the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Despite the solid showing, the former Best Import has yet to show the old, deadly form that has made him a favorite among fans of the franchise.

On Wednesday, he was outplayed by opposing import Arinze Onuaku, who ended up with solid numbers of 25 points and 22 rebounds despite battling jetlag and fatigue as he came in as a late replacement a day before the game.

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The Westports Malaysia Dragons scored an important victory in Bangkok as they defeated defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City, 108-89, Wednesday night to claim the solo second spot in the ASEAN Basketball League standings.

The home team had a gallant stand as they battled the Dragons without their import and reigning Player of the Week Chris Charles who sat out because of an apparent ankle sprain.

The Dragons dictated the tempo for much of the first half as they led 50-41 after the first 20 minutes. They led by 12 points, 66-54, with 4:03 left in the third period after two free throws from Reggie Johnson.

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Arinze Onuaku had 22 rebounds for Meralco. PBA Media Bureau

The Meralco Bolts started slow but finished strong to dispatch the Star Hotshots, 90-86, in the OPPO PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Import Arinze Onuaku, despite arriving in Manila just 24 hours before the game, posted monster numbers of 25 points and 22 rebounds to carry the Bolts.

Chris Newsome made 16 points while Cliff Hodge and Baser Amer with 12 and 10, respectively, to help their team notch a win in their campaign opener.

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Jayson Castro has his eye on the basket. PBA Media Bureau

Tropang TNT star guard Jayson Castro saved his best for last, drilling in a clutch three-pointer in the last 53 seconds that helped preserve the team’s win over Blackwater in the opening game of the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Castro erupted for 19 points in the first 24 minutes of action but went scoreless for most of the second half before stepping up to take the big shot in the final minute.

Though Castro – the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference and FIBA’s Best Point Guard in Asia – reminded everyone why he was TNT’s go-to guy and one of the best crunch time performers in the league, he also credited his teammates, who handled business to keep him fresh for the crucial endgame.

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The Singapore Slingers got back to their winning ways after they defeated the Mono Vampire Basketball Club, 97-69, at the Sripatum University Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

The Slingers were coming off a disappointing loss at the hands of the defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City on their home floor last February 5.

“After the loss to Hi-Tech at home, we kept on emphasizing that we needed to bounce back,” Slingers head coach Neo Beng Siang said after the game. “They really stepped up.”

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Ranidel de Ocampo played in his first game in 3 months. PBA Media Bureau

Tropang TNT veteran forward Ranidel De Ocampo picked up right where he left off last conference, making an impact in his first game back since suffering a back injury.

Despite missing nearly the entire Philippine Cup, he showed little sign of rust, finishing with 20 points in 28 minute of play.

“Nahirapan pa rin ako kasi ang tagal kong hindi nakalaro. Siguro dahil na rin sa sobrang excited maglaro,” De Ocampo told sportswriters.

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Erram taken to hospital after hard fall (February 11, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

John Paul Erram after a hard fall.

Blackwater is keeping its hopes up that center JP Erram sustained no serious injury after a hard landing early in the Elite’s conference-opening game against TNT on Wednesday.

With Blackwater leading 17-11 at the 5:59 mark of the first quarter, Erram went up and blocked Ranidel de Ocampo’s lay-up attempt. However, his landing went awry as he got undercut by Blackwater import MJ Rhett and fell hard on his back.

The former Ateneo Blue Eagle stayed on the floor for a while as medics tended to him. He no longer returned to the game.

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