DEBUTANT Meralco and TNT sustained losses on the road in their respective East Asia Super League (EASL) assignments Wednesday night.
The shorthanded Bolts were given a rude welcome in Okinawa by Japan powerhouse Ryukyu Golden Kings, 89-61, for a fumbling start in Group B.
Despite the explosive return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the TNT Tropang Giga fell to the Taipei Fubon Braves, 106-97, in Group A action in Taipei. Mr. Hollis-Jefferson, absent in TNT’s last game due to gastroenteritis, produced 33 points and 10 assists in a powerful tandem with Quincy Miller, who topscored with 34 plus 10 rebounds.
But it wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding for the Tropang Giga, who started the home-and-away league with a pair of losses to the Chiba Jets, 93-75 in Japan, and 66-75 in Sta. Rosa.
Allen Durham, who led Meralco to three finals appearances in the PBA Governors’ Cup, scattered 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists against his former Meralco Bolts pals.
The Bolts played without Chris Banchero, Allein Maliksi and their import in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Su Braimoh, leaving Prince Ibeh, Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge to carry the fight against Durham, Jack Cooley (12), Keita Imamura (19) and Pinoy Carl Tamayo (7).
Meanwhile, Mike Singletary, who had prior tours of duty with Barako Bull and San Miguel Beer, shot 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds a he led the Braves’ second-half breakaway against TNT.
Fubon, which also drew big games from Chris Johnson (29) and Fil-Am Sedrick Barefield (21), notched its first win after a 0-2 start. — Olmin Leyba