FOR every tough loss Meralco absorbed in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup, coach Ryan Gregorio believes the Bolts are just simply being toughened for the playoff wars ahead of them.
“We always have a strong chance against any team. That’s what we have shown this conference. But it doesn’t mean we are a weak team, or a team you will just dismiss,” said Gregorio moments after the Bolts suffered an 86-89 heartbreaker against Rain or Shine behind a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer by big man JR Quinahan.
The setback Wednesday night was actually the second time Meralco lost through a game-winner at the buzzer.
The Bolts closed out 2013 with a sorry 82-83 loss to Barangay Ginebra behind Japeth Aguilar’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, marking the team’s fourth straight loss in the second round of the eliminations.
“This is one conference where we’re being tested to the hilt. We could have been easily 7-5 or 7-6 (record). But we can’t look back,” said Gregorio.
“We’re 5-8 right now, we’re trying to stave off elimination. But we don’t want to get to the sudden death, those are our short term goals,” he added.
Gregorio said Meralco was just one rebound away from potentially stealing the game from Rain or Shine, but John Wilson lost the ball on the sideline after getting the rebound off an air ball attempt by guard Paul Lee with seven-tenth of a second left in the game.
The crucial turnover proved to be the small opening Quinahan needed to score the game-winning basket in the end.
“Again, I’m such an optimistic person that if it takes the top two teams to win against us on a last shot, that means we’re doing something positive,” stressed Gregorio. “It’s just finishing in the game we need to improve on.
"But all is not lost, we won’t quit.”