Even his awful free throw shooting could not fully diminish the sheen from Gani Lawal’s sterling game.
The Nigerian-American bucked a 4-for-10 clip from the stripe to still finish with 28 points and 26 rebounds in leading Meralco past gritty Phoenix Pulse 101-95 Friday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, Nico Salva and, in the stretch, Cliff Hodge chipped in their ample share, but they and the rest of the Bolts clearly followed Lawal’s lead as they notched their second straight win and improved to a 3-2 record overall.
Starting the second half with more energy, Lawal actually scattered 19 of his points and hauled down 16 of his boards, including nine and 10 in the decisive fourth period.
Lawal’s charity split gave Meralco a 99-95 cushion and he preserved it by pulling off a crucial block on a driving Matthew Wright seconds later that virtually iced the game.
In the end, the Bolts moved alongside idle Alaska while dealing Phoenix a second straight loss that dropped it to a 1-2 slate.
Meralco 101 – Lawal 28, Amer 20, Newsome 18, Salva 15, Quinto 8, De Ocampo 6, Almazan 3, Pinto 3, Hodge 0, Jackson 0, Caram 0, Hugnatan 0.
Phoenix Pulse 95 – Wright 20, Perkins 16, Jazul 12, Marcelo 10, Howell 8, Mallari 7, Chua 6, Dennison 5, Intal 5, Kramer 4, Revilla 2, Wilson 0.
Quarterscores: 21-19, 46-47, 80-72, 101-95.