UNLIKE Meralco the giant distributor of electrical power, Meralco the basketball team is fast gaining the respect it deserves after advancing to the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday night.
Top gunner Gary David made that sentiment known after the Bolts battled back from the depths of a 20-point deficit to turn back NLEX in overtime, 91-85, for a sweep of their best-of-three quarterfinals series and just the third semifinal appearance in franchise history.
“Alam naman natin ang Meralco maraming galit minsan dahil mataas ang kuryente, pero sa larangan ng sports, kailangan talagang respetuhin ang Meralco,” said a smiling David, sounding very much like the spokesperson of the electric company. “Laro-laro lang.”
“Kailangan makuha namin 'yung respeto nila (consumers/fans) lalo na sa sports,” he added. “Mga ambassadors kami ng Meralco, so kailangan maglaro ng maayos.”
Initially, the Bolts enjoyed the view from the top after they started the import-laden conference by winning their first five games.
Although they lost five of their last six outings, the men in orange and white still finished the eliminations in fifth spot, setting the stage for the playoffs match-up with the fourth-seeded Road Warriors.
This marked just the second time the Bolts reached the Final Four under the present series format. The first time they reached the semifinals was in the 2012 Governors’ Cup when they advanced in a six-team, single-round carryover semifinal setup.
“It’s nice to be in the semis,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “This is new territory (sweeping a playoff series) for my team.”
Meralco had been in several quarterfinal series where it would draw first blood, only to waste it and get eliminated.
David largely made the sweep of NLEX possible after ‘El Granada’ exploded for 31 points, including 18 in the fourth and overtime periods, embellished by five three-pointers in 36 minutes of play after being limited to just 12 markers in the opener.
“Na-challenge ako nung Game One,” David said. “Pinaghandaan ko lang. Sabi naman ni coach Norman, whatever it takes to take the W, gawin ko.' Di sya nawalan ng kumpyansa sa akin.”