PBA IMAGESMeralco picked up where it left off and whipped Phoenix, 81-66, in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup to inch closer to the elusive twice-to-beat advantage on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.Baser Amer unloaded 20 points and three assists to lead the Bolts to their third straight win to formally clinch a playoff berth.ADVERTISEMENT Need for a new naturalized player urgent, says Guiao LIST: Jan. 20 class suspensions due to Taal Volcano eruption Palace: Crisis over ABC-CBN franchise unlikely MOST READ Jameel McKay topped Phoenix with 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks, while Cyrus Baguio had 10 in the loss.The defeat further endangered the Fuel Masters’ position as they are precariously holding on to the eighth spot with their 3-5 slate.The Scores:MERALCO 81 – Amer 20, Newsome 19, Stepheson 15, Grey 8, Hodge 7, Caram 4, Hugnatan 3, Nabong 2, Chua 2, Daquioag 1, Dillinger 0, Faundo 0.PHOENIX 66 – McKay 16, Baguio 10, Jazul 7, Borboran 6, Torres 6, Dehesa 5, W. Wilson 5, Alolino 4, Kramer 3, Intal 2, J. Wilson 2, Miranda 0, Lanete 0.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Taal Volcano evacuees warned against going home Bulacan town gears up for biggest cookie jar Ex-Bulacan town vice mayor, village chief shot dead Wildlife rescuers asked to turn over animals to DENR Quarters: 13-16, 34-29, 53-46, 81-66.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Palace: Crisis over ABC-CBN franchise unlikely Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Chris Newsome also got 19 markers, four boards, and three assists, while Alex Stepheson got 15 points and 20 rebounds for Meralco, which tightened its grip of the second place with its 7-1 card.“Defensively, we’re pretty sharp tonight and it held up for the entire game,” said coach Norman Black. “I’m really happy with the defense. The guys really devoted to the game plan we had for Phoenix and executed really well on the defensive end.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnComing off a 16-day break, the Bolts shook off the cobwebs early and zapped their way back from an early nine-point deficit before regaining control in the second quarter to grab the 34-26 halftime lead.The low-scoring duel continued in the second half before the Bolts finally wiggled out of the Fuel Masters’ grasp as they opened the fourth quarter with a 17-7 blast, turning a tight 53-46 lead at the end of the third quarter to a comfortable 70-53 advantage, punctuated by an Amer jumper with 4:03 left in the game.