MERALCO hopes its play of late will be good enough for the Bolts to advance into the quarterfinals as they play Alaska in a playoff for the eighth seed in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Meralco coach Norman Black is glad his wards were able to take advantage of an Alaska loss to Blackwater last Saturday that kept their hopes alive for the quarterfinals. The Bolts later arranged a playoff for the eighth seed after stunning San Miguel, 95-91.
“Hats off to Blackwater for giving us a chance,” Black said. “They beat Alaska last game. So we live to fight another day and face Alaska. It’s going to be a tough game for us but at least we have a chance.
“We have new life. Just last Saturday, we were pretty much dead. At least we are breathing new life right now. It’s better to have life than be dead. Even in real life, that’s just the way it is. Mas magandang may life,” Black said.
Despite finishing the eliminations with a 4-7 record, Black said the Bolts have actually played better each game starting with their out-of-town game against Magnolia in Zamboanga City last June 29, 99-88. The Bolts then lost last Friday but just by one point over second seed NorthPort, 93-92.
“We actually looked a lot better last game against NorthPort. That was one of our better games in the conference and we lost. We had a chance to win down the stretch. It was good to see the improvement of the team over the games before that particularly when we played out-of-town in Zamboanga,” said Black.
Black said their improved play was definitely part of his pregame speech to the players before they faced San Miguel.
“I just told the players to try to build on that. Sometimes, you can lose a game but play the game the right way. That’s the way you want to continue to play in the future games. We continued that. That’s the only way we have a chance to beat San Miguel.
“If we don’t play good basketball against San Miguel, you are not going to win. They have too much talent and they are too good. You really have to be on top of your game to have a chance,” said Black.
Chris Newsome was one of the players who was instrumental in the Bolts’ victory over the Beermen after he finished with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Newsome said one of the reasons why the Bolts have improved their play is their ball movement, which led to 24 assists on Friday.
“Credit to my teammates for finding me and for setting me up,” Newsome said. “Us playing together as a team, we definitely moved the ball a lot better than our previous games.”
“I feel like that’s definitely the recipe of our success. The times that we made to the finals, that was when we were high in assists and we were stopping on defense. We had a lot of things going on this conference but we were able to find our rhythm. NorthPort, we weren’t able to get that one out but we played pretty well. We still had a lot of assists and we were able to carry it over,” said Black.
Black and Newsome only hope they can carry their recent performance against Alaska on Friday night.
“They (Alaska) have been struggling, but maybe not as much as us,” said Black.
“Basically, we just want to carry it over another game and make it to the playoff and I think we have a good chance of making it to the quarters and hopefully to the semis,” said Newsome.