ANTIPOLO – Meralco coach Norman Black admitted his team didn’t have the legs for Game One of their 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals against TNT following a tightly-contested quarterfinal match against Magnolia Chicken Timplados that went into overtime just last Wednesday.
Black said Meralco looked tired from the start in 110-80 blowout loss to sister team TNT on Friday at the Ynares Center.
Adding to the woes of Meralco was TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leading the charge with a triple double of 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists in the wire-to-wire win.
“We looked a little bit tired tonight,” said Black, who two days ago guided Meralco to a grindout 113-107 overtime win against Magnolia in the quarterfinals.
“We didn’t see our legs right from the very start of the game. (I) guess one of the goals between now and the next game is to try to get my guys refreshed, rested, and ready to go on Sunday,” said Black.
“At the same time, we were outplayed by TNT. We just have to figure out what they did correct and how we can correct our mistakes against their good basketball because they played well tonight,” said Black.
The top scorer for Meralco was KJ McDaniels, who had 12 rebounds and also grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds
With the result of the match imminent, Black made the decision to rest his top players in the fourth quarter in preparation for Game Two.
“That was just two days ago and we went right back to battle. I could have brought my guys back and tried to make a run in the fourth quarter. But we were down by 30 already. I can see we just didn’t have the legs tonight.
"Hopefully, we will be better rested on Sunday as well as being able to get a chance to be able to study what happened tonight so that we can be better prepared,” said Black. “We have to be stronger, faster, and quicker because we are playing a good team.”
Black also hopes that Meralco will do a better job defending Hollis-Jefferson.
“That’s the challenge to KJ (McDaniels). He is up against a tough import. He is going to have to raise his game in order for us to have any success in this series because the kid is a pretty good player,” said Black.