MERALCO eyes a piece of history for its young franchise when it goes for a semifinals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the expense of defending champion San Mig Coffee on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts have lost both their previous quarterfinal series against the Mixers, including in last year’s edition of the mid-season conference when San Mig Coffee went all the way to win the title.
But after a shocking 88-85 win in Game One of their best-of-three playoff series Friday night, the Bolts have a shot at finally slaying the ghost of the past with another win in Game Two set at 6:30 p.m.
“We just want to be intelligent come Sunday. We’re up 1-0, but there’s no point to celebrate, it takes two wins to get the best-of-three series,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
Gregorio admitted Meralco is pinning its hopes on Best Import candidate Eric Dawson, who’s been carrying the Bolts on his shoulders despite playing with an injured knee.
The 6-foot-9 Dawson scored eight of the Bolts’ last 10 points in Game One.
“Si Eric, sobrang professional siya. Nasaktan na last game naglaro pa rin,” said Meralco guard Macmac Cardona.
“Siya talaga ang leader namin. Di siya nagagalit. Di ko pa nakikitang nagagalit yan. Kaya nandun yung trust sa team, sobrang solid itong team namin ngayon,” he added.
For his past, San Mig coach Tim Cone said the Mixers have to play much better basketball come Game Two if they hope to keep their title-retention hopes alive.
“We really didn’t execute well. We were selfish. We didn’t move the ball well. But we’ll try to turn it around for Sunday,” said Cone.
Cone is also hopeful star player James Yap could finally overcome his back problem and come out with an MVP-like performance.
“Obviously, we really needed him (Yap) to be healthy. He’s having trouble going off the boards and defending. He just didn’t have very good movement,” noted Cone, blaming a back problem for the two-time league MVP's anemic eight-point performance on Friday.