ROOKIE Alvin Pasaol is not injured nor is he under the PBA’s health and safety protocols.
It just so happened that coach Norman Black thought Nards Pinto was a better match-up for Magnolia high-scoring guard Paul Lee defensively than the other Meralco guards, including Pasaol, that he found no need to field in the burly rookie.
“No, he’s not,” was the quick reply of the Meralco coach when asked if Pasaol, the team's first-round pick in the last draft, was nursing an injury after not seeing action in the Bolts’ Game 3 win over the Hotshots on Friday, 91-86.
But Black had the game plan set up for Pinto to take on Lee, a job in which the 5-foot-11 guard had success as the explosive Magnolia guard could only score in spurts and finished with 18 points while going 2-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The 30-year-old Pinto also turned out to be active on offense for the Bolts, pouring in 16 points to go with five rebounds, and two assists in 30 minutes of play.
“The guy (Pinto) really deserves a lot of credit. We gave him a tough task tonight. He had to guard Paul Lee majority of the game,” said Black of Pinto following the win that allowed Meralco to cut the series deficit to 2-1.
“In addition to that, he was able to score points. So my hats off to Nards Pinto.”
Black assured Pasaol will definitely get his playing time in his first semifinals stint in an effort to give Lee different looks in the best-of-seven series.
“Alvin is OK. If he’s available next game, he will play,” added the Meralco coach.