RYAN Gregorio admitted he was outcoached by his counterpart Luigi Trillo, and his Meralco squad thoroughly outplayed by Alaska, in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-three quarterfinals series.
Gregorio said he did all he could to prepare his Bolts against the taller and more athletic Aces, but they simply had no answer for Alaska’s big men as well as Cyrus Baguio who proved too hot to handle in the mini-series.
“I really thought we could have extended the series but I just have to give credit to coach Luigi. He was able to slow down our offense, knowing that we have played three games in the last five days. And he pounced on that. He did his homework,” Gregorio told Spin.ph.
Alaska took Game One, 90-84 even though super rookie Calvin Abueva fouled out after playing just 15 minutes. Then in Game Two, the Aces showed their killer instinct in dealing a killer 88-70 victory blow to the weary Bolts.
“We were just fatigued. We weren’t making shots that we were normally making,” added the 40-year-old Gregorio.
Compounding the Bolts’ woes was Sol Mercado’s sprained right ankle, which limited the 28-year-old Meralco playmaker’s movement in the series.
Gregorio said since spraining his right ankle in the team’s 87-77 win over San Mig Coffee on December 9, Mercado has failed to join the Bolts in practice, opting to rest and let the injury heal.
“But that’s part of the game. Accidents do happen. We just hope to perform better come the second conference,” said the Meralco mentor, whose 8-6 win-loss elims card was the franchise’s best since joining the pro league in the 2010-2011 season by buying the Sta. Lucia Realty franchise.
“Our goal is to keep plugging the holes in the team. I’ll just take two days off to lick my wounds and then go back to work. We know we’re seeing progress now for the team,” added Gregorio.
The three-time PBA Coach of the Year awardee, said he will be shopping around for a 6-10 or 6-11 import this early as they hope to come out with a much stronger showing in next February’s Commissioner’s Cup.