Meralco and TNT Tropang Giga suffered similar fates on the road in the East Asia Super League Home and Away season.
The Bolts’ tournament debut was spoiled by the Ryukyu Golden Kings, 89-61, in Okinawa, Japan, while over in Taipei, the Tropang Giga failed to hang on and lost to the Taipei Fubon Braves, 106-97, late Wednesday night.
Meralco played with a handicap as only import Prince Ibeh suited up against a Ryukyu side which paraded Jack Cooley and former Bolts import Allen Durham at the Okinawa Arena.
The Bolts were in the game until midway in the second quarter when the reigning B. League champions unloaded a 20-6 run to break free from a 28-28 deadlock and take a 48-34 lead at the break. Top gunner Keita Imamura led Ryukyu with 19 points, Cooley added 12 and eight rebounds, while Durham had another all-around game of 16 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, numbers which had been his staples during his four seasons with Meralco.
Former Gilas Pilipinas member Carl Tamayo finished with seven points for Ryukyu, which raised its record to 2-1 in Group B.
Chris Newsome came through with 11 points, while Ibeh had 10 and nine rebounds for Meralco, which even led 24-17 early in the second period.
The two sides meet again on 13 December at the integrated resort Studio City in Macau in a special road game sponsored by Melco Resorts and Entertainment.
Meanwhile, the Tropang Giga lost for the third straight time in Group A despite a combined 67-point output from former National Basketball Association players Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Quincy Miller.
Back after a bout with gastroenteritis that made him miss the 1 November game against Chiba Jets, Hollis-Jefferson knocked in 33 points including the jumper that made it a 91-88 contest with 5:46 left to play.
But the Braves, defending P. League+ champion, answered with a 9-0 blast behind Chris Anthony Johnson and former PBA import Mike Singletary to push the lead to 12 entering the final two minutes.
Miller notched 34 points and 10 rebounds, while Hollis-Jefferson added 10 assists for TNT, which also got 14 points from Calvin Oftana.
The Tropang Giga remain winless in Group A at 0-3, while the Braves rose to 1-2 as Johnson finished with 29 points, Singletary with 26, and Filipino-American Sedric Barefield with 21.