MERALCO braces for a complete Mahindra side this time as both teams lock horns in the playoff for the fourth seed in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Even without injured Enforcer star Niño Canaleta, the Bolts had a tough time dispatching Mahindra, 86-83, in their elimination-round meeting two Sundays ago.
Now, the Enforcer welcome back Canaleta, who has recovered after undergoing appendectomy three weeks ago, giving Bolts coach Norman Black another problem aside from import James White and LA Revilla and Aldrech Ramos.
“Our biggest concern is White, who has been a force on both ends of the court this conference,” Black said on Tuesday. “Defending the penetrations of Revilla while also challenging the outside shooting of KG and Ramos will also be key.”
Tipoff is at 4:15 p.m. with the winner grabbing a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals and basically gaining a head start in a virtual best-of-three series between the two teams.
White churned out 27 points and 12 boards in 37 minutes against the Bolts in their elims meeting where the Enforcer erased an early 13-point deficit and even took a one-point lead with under a minute left, before Allen Durham scored the go-ahead stab to secure the win.
Expect another grind-out battle where defense will spell a big difference.
“It’s playoff time, so putting up a solid defense will be our main focus,” Black said.
The Enforcer, for their part, are just eager to take advantage of their last chance to clinch the fourth seed after wasting their last three chances.
“We know we have a great opportunity that has been presented to us and it’s now time for us to grab it,” Mahindra coach Chris Gavina said.