AFTER a slow start in the PBA bubble, Meralco and Alaska have sprung back to life behind the steady play of a veteran guard and a promising rookie big man.
The Bolts, after a 1-2 start, flipped the switch in an unbeaten second week run by riding the hot hands of Chris Newsome while the Aces leaned on freshman Barkley Eboña who turned the team’s fortunes around from an early 0-2 hole.
Newsome averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.5 blocks in a stirring week for the Bolts, who scored big wins over Magnolia and NLEX to climb in the middle bracket of the standings halfway through the 2020 Philippine Cup restart.
The all-around play of the 30-year-old Fil-Am, who scored a clutch jumper in Meralco’s 109-104 overtime win against the Hotshots, earned him the Cignal TV-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for Oct. 19-26. He became the second player to gain the honor inside the bubble after TNT’s Roger Pogoy.
Eboña, the dynamic forward who broke out with averages of 17.33 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.0 block in three games for the Aces, was cited as the PBAPC Rookie of the Week.
Newsome had 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and two blocks in Meralco’s win over Magnolia, and followed it up with an 18-6-6 statsline in the Bolts’ 101-92 triumph over NLEX.
The 6-foot-6 Eboña showed a glimpse of his potential following a breakout week for the Aces, who went 2-1 during that weeklong stretch for an even 3-3 record.
The No. 4 overall pick from FEU, who is being trained by Alaska deputy and two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso, erupted for a career-best 24 points on a near-perfect 10-of-11 shooting in Alaska’s runaway 120-82 win over Blackwater, whose coach Nash Racela was Ebona’s college mentor.
Even in Alaska’s 88-92 loss against reigning champion San Miguel, Eboña also stamped his mark by finishing with 18 points on 9-of-11 clip, five rebounds, a steal and a block in just 21 minutes of play.